Paignton landlady given suspended custodial sentence for fire safety failures

Paignton landlady given suspended custodial sentence for fire safety failures

A landlady with two properties in Paignton has been sentenced to eight months in prison suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.

Kay Godtschalk, the owner and landlady of 2 Warefield Road and 15 Esplanade Road in Paignton, appeared at Exeter Crown Court on Monday 9 October 2017.

She pleaded guilty to a total of eight offences (four for each property) under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 and was also ordered to pay £8,127 costs to Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service.

In March 2016 Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service officers inspected the premises at 2 Warefield Road as part of a multi-agency initiative. The property consisted of four floors and had been converted into flats. The inspection revealed a number of failings including a lack of a suitable fire detection and warning system.

During the inspection officers were informed of a second premises owned by Kay Godtschalk which revealed similar failings. Due to the level of risk the occupants were exposed, a prohibition notice was served preventing the use of the upper floors in both premises.

The subsequent investigation by Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service found that a Fire Risk Assessment had been carried out in June 2015 for both properties. The fire risk assessments had identified deficiencies in the fire safety provisions at both properties but Kay Godtschalk had failed to act on the information, leaving the residents as risk. The investigation also discovered that in April 2015 a quotation for installing a fire detection and warning system at both properties had been obtained but this had never been followed up.

Group Manager Paul Bray, Business Safety Manager for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “This was a blatant disregard for the safety of others. Kay Godtschalk was made aware of the fire safety deficiencies yet failed to take any action knowingly leaving residents at risk.”

Mr Bray went on to say: “This was a reckless breach of the law as Kay Godtschalk was in position of trust.”

The severity of the sentence imposed by the court sends a strong message to the owners and managers of similar properties regarding their legal responsibilities and the consequences of ignoring them.

The Service’s Business Safety Officers will always work with and support those businesses that take their fire safety responsibilities seriously but will not tolerate those that put people at risk.