A guesthouse owner has been slapped with £20,000 in costs and fines for breaching the fire safety act. The breaches became apparent following two arson attacks on Kaiser Javeed Choudry’s Albert Guest House in county Durham.
The local Magistrates’ Court heard that firefighters were called to a large blaze, which was started deliberately by a resident, in January last year. The following inspection found a fire door wedged open with its handles removed and another the self-closing mechanism removed.
The defence for Mr Choudry argued that the faults were caused by workers who were redecorating at the time. Despite promising to rectify the problems, another inspection following a fire in a storage cupboard (also deliberately started) revealed the same problems.
There was no fire risk assessment completed and a cupboard containing combustibles had not been locked. Mr Choudry admitted three breaches of fire safety regulations. He also pleaded guilty on behalf of his company Hyatt Accommodation Services to a number of additional services.
He was handed a fine of over £8,000 and ordered to pay £12,000 in costs. Hyatt Accommodation Services was fined £700.
District judge Kristina Harrison did express some sympathy for the defendant: “The problem, I think, is the type of people he was trying to accommodate, which are some of the most vulnerable in society, sometimes perhaps don’t appreciate it and have on two separate occasions set fire to in his premises. This has no doubt resulted in substantial loss to Mr Choudry.”