The justice has sent a clear message to Hotel owners in a recent ruling where a Paignton hotel owner has been given a suspended prison sentence after “hair-raising” fire safety defects were found within the premises.
The Hotel owner was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Exeter Crown Court in June. He had previously pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
In summing up prior to sentencing, Judge Wassell said: “I need to send a very serious message to hotel owners. The failures at this hotel were a potential tragedy in waiting. The number of defects was just hair-raising.
“To receive complaints from guests, some heard a fire alarm some did not, that 28 fire doors had failed to close properly, that 10 were not even fire doors. Furthermore, there were dangerous electrics, that there were elderly people staying at the hotel and exit doors were wedged shut. There were a catalogue of dangerous findings at the hotel and the fire service was quite right in closing it down.
“Anyone running a hotel in this dangerous condition needs to know the seriousness with which these matters are taken and with that only a custodial sentence will do. In terms of failings it is difficult to imagine one worse.*
The offences related to failures of the fire safety standards at the Hotel in 2014, including:
- Not having an adequate working fire alarm system
- A large number of the fire doors in the premises not meeting the required standard
- Large amounts of flammable materials stored throughout the hotel
- Poor planning in case of an emergency
- Inadequate means of escape in case of fire and poor standards of maintenance.
Judge Wassell added that, had the hotel owner not had good character and no previous convictions, he would have been sentenced to 16 months in prison.
The owner was also ordered to pay the full costs of £9,274.