Suspended Sentence for Pub Landlord

A pub landlord was given a custodial sentence for breaking a prohibition notice given by the fire service and for a litany of other fire safety offences. Anthony O’Leary received suspended sentences for four offences in a case that London Fire Brigade says highlights the problem of unsuitable buildings being used as housing.

The offences took place in 2010 when police asked London Fire Brigade to carry out an inspection of the disused Tavern in the Town pub in North London. Inspectors found there was no fire detection system and inadequate means of escape, so they issued a prohibition notice preventing the pub being used for sleeping accommodation.

Later that year inspectors returned to find tenants living in the former pub, in breach of the prohibition notice. Building manager Joseph McConville and the building’s landlord O’Leary denied knowledge of people using the building as accommodation or of the notice prohibiting it.

McConville was last year given a conditional discharge for a single offence of breaching a prohibition notice, while O’Leary was given a custodial sentence. He received a six-month sentence, suspended for two years for each of the following offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety Order) 2005:

He was also sentenced to nine months for breaching the prohibition notice, also suspended for two years.

Warning to building owners

This judgment is being seen as a warning to building owners who are allowing tenants to use their properties without proper fire safety procedures.

In overcrowded cities where rent is high there is an increasing problem of illegal housing, including so-called "beds in sheds", which have become prevalent in the suburbs of London. The Fire Service says that riskier ways of cooking, heating, and lighting are more common in illegal housing such as this.

LFB Assistant Commissioner for fire safety regulation Steve Turek said that the use of unsuitable buildings for accommodation was “a concern.” He added:

"This verdict sends out a clear message that if building owners ignore their responsibilities under fire safety law we will not hesitate to prosecute and they will face serious penalties." Source: IFSEC

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