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Restaurateur given suspended sentence

06 September 2017

THE PROPRIETOR of a restaurant in Bath has been handed a suspended prison sentence following the findings of a fire safety audit.

On 30 November 2016, technical fire safety officers from Avon Fire and Rescue Service (AFRS) visited the Eastern Eye Restaurant in Quiet Street, Bath, to undertake a fire safety audit. Concerns about fire safety and obstructed escape routes within the restaurant had been raised previously by a member of the public as well as Bath and North East Somerset Council.

During their audit, officers found multiple failings relating to fire safety, which then led to a full investigation. During the investigation, fire safety officers found that no fire safety risk assessment had been carried out at the premises and no staff training records were available. The fire escape was obstructed and found to have no lighting and the internal fire doors were found to have no self-closing devices fitted. Some of the fire doors that did were either held open with wedges or fitted poorly into their frames. The fire detection and alarm system was also found to have no power, which therefore made it inoperable.

Eastern Eye UK Limited and the Managing Director Mr Abdul Hadi Choudhury appeared at Bristol Crown Court on 1 September and were found guilty of serious breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The Eastern Eye UK Limited was fined £70,000 and Abdul Hadi Choudhury was sentenced to nine months imprisonment, which was reduced to six months for an early guilty plea, suspended for 12 months. Full costs were also awarded to the prosecution of £8,381.31.

In his summing up HHJ Field, sitting as a Deputy Circuit Judge concluded that there was a “compendium of multiple failings” and that had a fire occurred in the kitchen of the restaurant, it would have been almost impossible for the customers and staff to have escaped to safety.

AFRS group manager Steve Quinton said: “The fire safety audit and subsequent inspection carried out by our Fire Safety Officers at the restaurant highlighted serious failings in relation to the legal responsibility of the owners to reduce the risk of fire within the building and ensure people can escape safely if there was a fire. The sentence handed out by the judge in this case shows what can happen if a business doesn’t take its responsibilities seriously.”