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Hotelier sentenced for multiple breaches of Fire Safety Order

15 August 2023

NORTHUMBERLAND HOTELIER Mohammed Maten Rohman has received a two-year suspended custodial sentence after pleading guilty to multiple charges brought under current fire safety legislation.

Rohman, owner of The Schooner Hotel (itself a Grade II-listed building in Alnmouth, Northumberland), had previously admitted ten breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Newcastle Crown Court. The sentencing took place at Newcastle Crown Court on 17 July in the wake of financial statements having been prepared subsequent to the initial hearing.

The offences related to significant fire safety deficiencies identified during a routine fire safety audit conducted back in June 2021 by inspecting officers from the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service. The deficiencies were deemed to pose a risk of death or serious injury in the event of fire.

Following the audit, fire officers had issued an Enforcement Notice outlining the measures Rohman needed to action in order to make the premises safe for guests and employees, but when those officers returned months later, they duly discovered that many of the fire deficiencies had not been rectified.

The offences included the following infractions of the law:

*inadequate compartmentation between the basement cellar and the ground floor

*the lack of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment

*a faulty fire alarm system

*unsafe emergency exits and escape routes, including signage left over from the COVID-19 pandemic, which might have sent guests the wrong way in the event of a fire episode

*a lack of staff training

*a breach of the aforementioned Enforcement Notice (to which Rohman also pleaded guilty)

“Element of profiteering”

Warren Spencer, managing director of legal firm Blackhurst Budd who prosecuted the case on behalf of the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service (and who is also a regular guest on the Fire Safety Matters Podcast), told Newcastle Crown Court that four previous Enforcement Notices had been issued to Rohman between 2009 and 2019 in respect of similar fire breaches.

In sentencing Rohman, His Honour Judge Stephen Earl told the hotelier that he had a flagrant history of breaching the fire safety regulations and that there had been an “element of profiteering” instead of making his premises safe.

His Honour sentenced Rohman to 12 months custody for failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the premises and 12 months custody for breaching the Enforcement Notice, each to run consecutively, but suspended for a period of two years.

Rohman was sentenced to nine months custody for each of the other eight charges, to run concurrently, and also suspended for two years. Further, Rohman was ordered by His Honour to complete a 250-hour community order and pay £24,124 in costs.

Richard Leighton, Group manager of the Fire Safety Department at the Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, observed: “The safety of our communities in Northumberland is our priority. We will always work with those responsible for fire safety within premises where fire safety legislation applies to ensure people are safe from the risk of fire and encourage them to reach out to us to ensure they have the correct fire safety plans in place.”