Suspended sentence for shop owner who ignored fire safety

The leaseholder of a Brixton food and wine shop with a flat above has received a two-month suspended prison sentence for breaking fire safety laws after he was prosecuted by London Fire Brigade.

Arunthavachelvan Jegatheepan of S N Food & Wine on Brixton Road was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid community work when he was sentenced at Inner London Crown Court on Friday (6 May).

He had admitted four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including breaching a notice prohibiting the first floor of his premises from being used as sleeping and living accommodation.

Smoke alarmLFB safety inspectors first visited the shop in August 2013 and raised a number of concerns, saying they posed an “imminent risk of serious personal injury”. The shop has a residential flat above it.

LFB issued a prohibition notice preventing the use of the first floor as residential and sleeping accommodation and issued an enforcement notice requiring safety issues to be put right by December 2013.

“During a follow-up visit in November 2013 we found that people were still sleeping on the first floor of the property. A further visit in October 2014 found the fire alarm panel in the living accommodation still had no power,” LFB said.

Following the sentencing hearing the brigade’s assistant commissioner for fire safety, Dan Daly, said: “The accommodation above this shop could have put people’s lives at risk.  If a fire had broken out anyone living and sleeping there would not have been able to safely escape.

“Those responsible for buildings have a clear legal responsibility to ensure that the people living and working there are safe from fire.

“In this case, not only were those responsibilities being flouted before we visited the premises, the leaseholder continued to ignore them even after we had carried out our safety inspection.”

In addition to a suspended custodial sentence for breaching fire safety regulations, Mr Jegatheepan was ordered to pay £8,000 towards legal costs.

He had pleaded guilty to the following offences at an earlier hearing:.

  • Not having a fire risk assessment
  • Inadequate fire detection and smoke alarms
  • Breach of a prohibition notice preventing the use of the first floor as residential accommodation
  • Compromised compartmentation of the single escape route from the first floor accommodation.