JAILED: Wolverhampton pub owner put lives at risk after blocking fire exits with boxes
A businessman who put lives at risk at his Black Country pub by blocking the fire exits with boxes and failing to install alarms and smoke detectors has been jailed for eight months.
West Midlands Fire Service said Daljit Singh blatantly disregarded its safety advice on numerous occasions.
Singh owned the Hop Pole Inn in Oxley Manor Road, Wolverhampton, and was regularly visited by fire inspectors over a two-year period.
But he repeatedly failed to remedy the safety breaches, despite a total of seven visits from fire safety officers, Wolverhampton Crown Court was told.
Mr Mark Jackson, prosecuting, said Singh, aged 52, told inspectors 'a string of lies'. He claimed that no one lived at the property when in reality there were six tenants upstairs.
He also used a false name and pretended to be other members of his family when inspectors tracked him down last year at another pub he owned in the city.
The court was told that Singh already had an 'appalling' history of compliance with fire regulations when officers visited him in August 2011.
On that occasion he told them the pub was due to be bulldozed in the next two months. "It was a false assertion," said the prosecutor.
In a follow up visit in January 2012 inspectors highlighted a raft of safety breaches at the pub.
Mr Jackson said they included an inoperable fire alarm, fire escapes blocked with boxes and furniture and no smoke alarms throughout the building.
Further visits in May, June and July 2012 revealed Singh had done 'absolutely nothing' to address the issues.
He only attempted to comply with regulations on one occasion – when he used masking tape to fit smoke detectors on the ceilings of rooms on the first floor.
But within two weeks they were gone. In July 2012, it transpired that six people had been living in the upstairs room of the property. Singh had told the authorities he had two tenants there the previous month. Singh was summoned to a number of interviews with fire safety officers, none of which he attended.
He was eventually tracked down at The Winning Post in Glentworth Gardens, where he pretended to be other people.
Mr Jackson said: "The defendant deliberately and systematically ignored every attempt the fire authorities made to assist him to comply with even the most basic of safety regulations. He has done so for profit and in turn has put the lives of his tenants and customers at risk. His attitude has been contemptible."
Mr Akaal Sidhu, defending, said his client was ashamed of his actions.
"Financially things weren't going well for him at the time," he added.
Singh, of Glentworth Gardens, Wolverhampton, admitted 13 counts of breaching fire safety regulations.
He was jailed for eight months and ordered to pay £11,130 costs.
Gary Jones, a fire inspector with West Midlands Fire Service, said Singh repeatedly ignored the service's safety advice.
"We tried to help the defendant out on numerous occasions but he blatantly disregarded our advice," he said.
"He forced our hand in terms of conducting this prosecution."
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