Brixton shop owner handed suspended sentence for breaking fire safety laws

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. At the sentencing hearing at Inner London Crown Court, on Friday (6 May), Arunthavachelvan Jegatheepan was also ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid community work.

Owner admits four offences

Mr Jegatheepan admitted four offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005, including breaching a prohibition notice preventing the first floor of the premises from being used as sleeping and living accommodation.

Fire safety inspectors first visited S N Food & Wine on Brixton Road in August 2013.

The building consists of a food and wine shop on the ground floor and residential accommodation on the first floor made up of two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom.

Inspectors raised a number of fire safety concerns when they visited the first floor saying they posed an ‘imminent risk of serious personal injury’. These included:

  • insufficient fire resistance between the residential accommodation and the means of a escape from the first floor
  • inadequate fire detection
  • no evidence of an  emergency plan or fire risk assessment

Due to the risk posed to people sleeping there, we immediately issued a prohibition notice preventing the use of the first floor as residential and sleeping accommodation.

During a follow up visit it was found people were still sleeping on the first floor of the property and a further visit found the fire alarm panel in the living accommodation still had no power.

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

Mr Jegatheepan had pleaded guilty to the following offences at an earlier hearing under the Regulatory Reform (Fire safety) Order 2005.

  1. Not having a fire risk assessment
  2. Inadequate fire detection and smoke alarms
  3. Breach of a prohibition notice preventing the use of the first floor as residential accommodation
  4. Compromised compartmentation of the single escape route from the first floor accommodation
  5. “We target our vital prevention work on vulnerable people who are most at risk and we offer home fire safety visits to them where are firefighters can install smoke alarms for free where needed.
  6. “A Brigade report showed that vulnerable people were 18 times less likely to have a fire if they receive a home fire safety visit.
  7. “Over the last 15 years the Brigade has seen the numbers of fires and emergency incidents in London reducing.
  8. “This is largely due to firefighters prevention work since our campaign for community fire safety started in 2000 and last year we carried out 87,000 home visits.
  9. “However, we cannot become complacent and in our 150th year we must strive to reduce fire and the impact of fire as much as possible.”