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Leeds landlord jailed in wake of breaching Health and Safety at Work Act

14 May 2023

THE LANDLORD of a Leeds cellar ‘flat’ in Berkeley Grove, Harehills where a fire resulted in the death of Philip Sheridan (who lived in the unofficially converted basement and later passed away due to complications arising from severe smoke inhalation realised by the blaze) has been jailed for breaching Health and Safety regulations.

The fire broke out on 26 June and Sheridan, aged 32, died on 6 July 2019.

Appearing before Leeds Crown Court for sentencing, landlord Humrazz Shahid was handed an immediate 13-month prison term. Aged 43, Shahid (of Oakwood Lane in Leeds) had earlier admitted the offence of failing to discharge a duty owed under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Leeds Crown Court was told that, subsequent to the fire episode at the premises, both the Fire and Rescue Service and the local authority concluded that the converted cellar in a mid-terraced house was unsuitable for human habitation, due at least in part to the inadequacy of the fire detection and escape measures.

The cellar had only had one entrance, which was through an inward-opening door that did not have a proper handle. That door was partially blocked by the cooker, which served as the source of the fire. Leeds Crown Court also heard that there was no smoke or fire alarm fitted in the property at the time.

Though Shahid was not the owner of the property, he had the authority to deal with its management and had done so since 2008. Further, Shahid was shown as the landlord on the tenancy agreement he signed with Sheridan in August 2013, while the latter’s regular housing benefit payments were directed into Shahid’s bank account.

Sheridan did manage to escape from the property on his own, but in doing so suffered burns to the back of his head, upper torso, neck and arms, which were consistent with him having to lean back over the cooker which was on fire.

Sheridan collapsed on the pavement outside the address and was transferred to hospital where he remained until his death.

Detective Superintendent Marc Bowes of West Yorkshire Police, the senior investigating officer in this case, said: “The death of Philip Sheridan in these circumstances was an absolute tragedy, but one that was entirely avoidable had Shahid taken his responsibilities to ensure a safe living environment seriously.”

Bowes added: “We worked closely with Leeds City Council to bring this successful prosecution and hope that seeing Shahid held accountable for his flagrant breach of the regulations will serve as a clear reminder to other landlords and property managers who fail to meet their legal obligations to put the safety of their tenants first.”