Landlady escapes custody for putting people in ‘extreme danger’

Harrow Inn, Tuxford
Harrow Inn, Tuxford

A pub landlady has escaped an immediate jail sentence for putting people in ‘extreme danger’ after it was found she failed to provide adequate fire-safety.

Carmel Heathcote, the licensee at The Harrow Inn in Boughton, was ordered to pay out more than £11,622.

The case at Nottingham Crown court heard that although Heathcote had a fire risk assessment, the first floor of the Tuxford Road pub was unsafely being used as sleeping accommodation for between 13 and 16 workers.

Head of fire protection at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, John Mills, said: “All business owners have a legal obligation to adhere to the relevant legislation relating to fire safety in their premises in order to ensure their staff, customers and members of the public are kept safe from fire.

“What is key in this case is that the defendant was in possession of a fire risk assessment which specifically identified that the premises were not suitable for sleeping accommodation. Unfortunately this had not been updated to reflect the high risks associated with allowing people to sleep there.

“This sentence sends a very strong message to the owners and managers of premises regarding their legal responsibilities and the potential result of ignoring them, but it also sends a very positive message to those conscientious landlords and property managers who ensure their staff and customers are kept safe.”

The fire service visited the pub in September of last year following a complaint by a member of the public.

On inspection they found evidence of people sleeping on the first floor, but that there was no means of detecting fire or raising the alarm in the event of an emergency, no emergency lighting and that the means of escape was not adequately protected from fire or smoke.

She had not provided proper emergency lighting, escape routes, fire detectors and fire alarms on the first floor.

Heathcote admitted six counts of breaching fire safety regulations.

In passing sentence, Judge Andrew Hamilton said that if the period of time over which persons were sleeping at the premises had been longer he would have sent Heathcote immediately to prison.

He went on to say that this sentence should stand as a warning to others making a profit, however small, from committing such offences that they face immediate prison sentences.

She was handed a prison sentence of eight months, suspended for two years.