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Indian-Origin Landlord Jailed for Fire Deaths in UK

Kamal Bains was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Wednesday in what is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind in the UK since new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations were introduced in October 2015.

PTI

Updated:July 19, 2018, 5:10 PM IST
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Indian-Origin Landlord Jailed for Fire Deaths in UK
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London: An Indian-origin landlord in the UK has been jailed for 12 months over his failure to ensure proper fire safety standards which led to the death of two children in a fire at a property owned and managed by him, the first prosecution of its kind in the country since new smoke alarm regulations were introduced in October 2015.

Kamal Bains, a letting agent responsible for the property in Huddersfield area of West Yorkshire, failed to fit smoke alarms to the house for tenants.

The 51-year-old was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Thursday in what is believed to be the first prosecution of its kind in the UK since new Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm (England) Regulations were introduced in October 2015.

"Failing to adhere to the legislation is a criminal offence and one which can have tragic consequences," said Senior Investigating Officer Detective Superintendent Steve Thomas, who led the investigation into the deaths of three-year-old Logan Taylor and Jake Casey, aged two, in February 2016.

"During an examination of the property after the incident, there were no signs of smoke alarms having being present prior to the fire. There was also no evidence to suggest a smoke alarm had ever been fixed to the upstairs ceiling and only a fixing bracket was present downstairs," he said.

Bains had been on trial at Leeds Crown Court after pleading not guilty to charges of manslaughter of the boys, who were overcome by smoke after a fire started in their bedroom. But mid-way through the trial, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of failing to discharge an employer's general duty owed under Section 3 (1) of the UK's Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

The letting agent, whose company was in charge of the rented property, had been charged by West Yorkshire Police last year in relation with the fatal fire, arising from his failure to ensure that working smoke alarms were installed at the address where the family were living.

Bains was repeatedly asked by the tenants to carry out repairs to the address, including the installation of smoke alarms since they moved into the house in May 2015.

The fire was believed to have started as a consequence of an electrical fault in equipment which was in the young boys' bedroom. The two boys were asleep in their bedroom when devices, including a television set alight, and proved fatal for the two boys who were overcome by smoke.

The boys' parents, Emma Taylor and Jamie Casey, expressed relief at the end of the court proceedings after a "long and painful process".

"We do hope that this case highlights this important issue and for people to know their responsibilities as landlords or letting agents and to take appropriate action to ensure that any property they are responsible for has working smoke alarms. Such a simple check could have saved the lives of our boys and we want to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else," they said in a statement.

The UK's Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Regulations 2015 say that private sector landlords are required to have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties and carbon monoxide alarms in any room containing a solid fuel burning appliance. The landlord must also make sure the alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Dave Walton, at West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: "This was a truly devastating fire in which two young boys tragically lost their lives. Had there been working smoke alarms in this property the outcome could have been very different and these brothers could have had a future to look forward to."

"This landmark case shows how vitally important it is that landlords and letting agents take their responsibilities seriously or the consequences do not bear thinking about."

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| Edited by: Parth Sharma
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