8-month sentence suspended for 18 months

10 October 2017

A Devon businesswoman who put the lives of her tenants at risk through serious failings in fire safety has been given an 8-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months.

Kay Godtschalk was warned that she must sort out the safety issues at her two blocks of flats in Paignton, sell them, or face going to jail, reports Devon Live.

Tenants were put at risk by lack of adequate smoke detectors or fire alarms, lack of proper escape routes or fire fighting equipment.

She commissioned a risk assessment and got a £6,225 quote for improved smoke detectors but did not act on them for nine months until a spot inspection by the fire service.

The two blocks of flats were considered so dangerous they were closed down temporarily by fire officers, but were reoccupied after urgent improvements.

When they were visited in March last year, there were only two smoke detectors in each of them, no fire alarm system and one fire extinguisher in each.

Godtschalk was jailed for eight months, suspended for 18 months, and told to pay £8,127 costs.

Recorder Mr Andrew Oldland said: "The prosecution say you put profit before safety, perhaps it would be a better description to say you were not incurring requisite costs. You exposed a number of members of the public to the risk of harm.

"These were serious breaches at two different premises which cumulatively paint an extremely poor picture.

"You are now required to relinquish the properties or maintain them in accordance with the regulations. You may well be visited by the fire service again and if there are further breaches, in all likelihood the suspended sentence will be activated."

Group Manager Paul Bray, Business Safety Manager for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “This was a blatant disregard for the safety of others. Kay Godtschalk was made aware of the fire safety deficiencies yet failed to take any action knowingly leaving residents at risk.”

Original source

Devon Live