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Owners of Bombay Spice curry house in York fined £14,000 for breaking safety rules
10:18am Tuesday 22nd May 2012 in News
A BROTHER and sister and their company face a £14,000 bill for their “cavalier” and “irresponsible” attitude to safety regulations at a fire-hit York restaurant.
Part of Goodramgate was evacuated and cordoned off during a blaze at Bombay Spice in May, 2010.
Ben Campbell, prosecuting, said firefighters discovered combustible material stored under stairs, a lack of smoke alarms and obstructed escape routes in the three-storey building, which at the time had a two-floor restaurant and sleeping accommodation for staff on the first and second floors.
Despite the serving of two prohibition notices and two enforcement notices, it was not until 18 months later that the building complied with fire regulations and the sleeping accommodation was no longer used.
At York Crown Court yesterday, The Recorder of York, Judge Stephen Ashurst, said: “This case exposes serious deficiencies of behaviour by the directors who, in my judgement, have displayed an irresponsible approach to fire safety.”
Mohammed Ali Akbar, 20, and Rohima Khonam, 22, had not had to do anything complicated or expensive to make the building safe.
“It is inevitable a prosecution had to be brought for this cavalier attitude to fire safety,” the judge said.
York fire station manager David Watson said the couple’s conviction, with that of their company, Bombay Masala (York) Ltd, showed “how seriously the fire authority and the courts view those who put the safety of others at risk in the event of a fire”.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue service urged all businesses to ensure their premises met fire regulations and carried out or reviewed fire risk assessments.
Akbar, of Birch Close, Huntington, was fined £5,600 with a £15 victim surcharge and £2,829 prosecution costs, after pleading guilty to eight fire regulation offences including providing misleading information about the restaurant’s management and fire risk assessment.
Companies House records list both him and Ali Ahsan, 33, of Malmesbury Road, Birmingham, as directors of Bombay Spice (York) Ltd at the time of the fire.
Khonam, of Hosbrooke Road, Birmingham, admitted seven fire regulation offences and was fined £2,800 with a £15 victim surcharge and £1,000 prosecution costs. She and Akbar are directors of Bombay Masala (York ) Ltd, founded in October 2010, which took over the restaurant and which was fined £1,750 after admitting seven fire regulation offences.
Mr Campbell said the fire authority served prohibition and enforcement notices on Ali Ahsan and Bombay Spice in 2010, but when the company went into liquidation some months later, served prohibition and enforcement notices on the three defendants.
At one point Akbar claimed Mr Ahsan had left the restaurant, when he was still working at it.
Solicitors for both Akbar and Khonam said they were “naive” and “inexperienced” in running a company.
For Akbar, Kevin Blount said his client had started out as a junior employee of Bombay Spice. Mr Ahsan was continuing as the restaurant’s licensee while Akbar trained up.
He had believed matters were in hand to stop people sleeping above the restaurant, but later realised otherwise.
For Khonam, Lee-Anne Robins-Hicks said she had no day-to-day contact with the restaurant, as she lived in Birmingham.