A NORTHUMBERLAND HOTELIER has received a  2 year suspended custodial sentence after pleading guilty to charges brought under fire safety legislation.

Mohammed Maten Rohman, owner of The Schooner Hotel, (a Grade II-listed building in Alnmouth, Northumberland) had admitted 10 breaches of the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 at Newcastle Crown Court at a previous hearing.

The offences related to significant fire safety deficiencies identified during a routine fire safety audit conducted back in June 2021. The deficiencies posed a risk of death or serious injury in the event of fire.

Following the audit, fire officers had issued an Enforcement Notice outlining the measures Rohman needed to take to make the premises safe for guests and employees, but when they returned months later many of the fire deficiencies had not been rectified.

Warren Spencer, Prosecuting for Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, told the Court that 4 previous enforcement notices had been issued to Rohman between 2009 and 2019, in respect of similar fire breaches.

The offences included:

  • inadequate compartmentation between the basement cellar and the ground floor
  • the lack of a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment
  • a faulty fire alarm system
  • unsafe emergency exits and escape routes, including signage left over from the Pandemic, which might have sent guests the wrong way  in the event of a fire
  • a lack of staff training
  • and a breach of the enforcement notice

Passing sentence, His Honour Judge Stephen Earl told Rohman that he had a flagrant history of breaching the regulations, and that there had been an “element of profiteering” instead of making his premises safe.

He sentenced Rohman to 12 months custody for failing to make a suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment of the premises, and 12 months custody for breaching the Enforcement Notice, each to run consecutively, but suspended for a period of 2 years. He was sentenced to 9 months custody for each of the other 8 charges, to run concurrently, and also suspended for 2 years. He was ordered to complete a 250 hour community order and pay £24,124 in costs.

Group Manager Richard Leighton, of Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, said: “The safety of our communities in Northumberland is our priority and we will always work with those responsible for fire safety within premises where fire safety legislation applies to ensure people are safe from the risk of fire, and encourage them to reach out to us to ensure they have the correct fire safety plans in place.”