Suspended sentence for pub landlord

A landlord who rented out rooms in a disused pub has been given a suspended prison sentence and been ordered to carry out 100 hours’ community service.

Leaseholder of the former Tavern Inn in Kentish Town, London, Anthony O’Leary, pleaded guilty to five offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and was sentenced on 12 March at Blackfriars Crown Court.

Following concerns raised about the building by police, fire safety officers carried out an audit of the premises on 29 January 2010. They identified a number of concerns, chiefly the lack of any fire detection system and inadequate means of escape from the building.

As a result, a prohibition notice was issued preventing the former pub being used as sleeping accommodation until these issues were addressed.

In July of that year, fire safety officers returned to the building and found a number of tenants living in the former pub. London Fire Brigade (LFB) said that during interviews both Mr O’Leary and the property’s manager, Joseph McConville, admitted that they were aware of the prohibition notice and that the pub was being used as sleeping accommodation.

Mr O’Leary was given suspended sentences of six months’ imprisonment for each offence of: failure to provide a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment; having inadequate fire detection and alarms; failure to protect the means of escape and lack of emergency lighting. He received a nine-month suspended sentence for the breach of a prohibition notice. All sentences were suspended for two years and are to run concurrently.

Speaking after the sentencing LFB’s assistant commissioner for fire safety regulation, Steve Turek, said: ‘The issue of unsuitable buildings being rented out as accommodation continues to be a concern for LFB and 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.’

Joseph McConville was given a conditional discharge last year for a single offence of breaching a prohibition notice.