Takeaway boss jailed for letting staff live in ‘death trap’

PUBLISHED: 12:43 10 July 2015 | UPDATED: 12:43 10 July 2015

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An ‘irresponsible’ Portishead takeaway owner has been jailed for allowing his staff to live in a ‘death trap’.

Misbah Uddin Chowdhury put employees’ lives at risk by allowing them to sleep above Kashmir Tandoori Takeaway, despite having been told it was unsafe because fire safety regulations were not being met.

Judge Julian Lambert, addressing Chowdhury at Bristol Crown Court on Monday, said: “You chose to allow people to continue sleeping there. Anyone who slept there was sleeping in a death trap.

“It was sheer luck that no one died.”

The takeaway is based on the ground floor in Portishead High Street and there were six bedrooms for staff on the two floors above.

An investigation by Avon Fire & Rescue Service in 2012 revealed there was not a safe fire escape route for those living upstairs. There was also no fire alarms, smoke detectors, emergency lighting or fire doors.

A prohibition notice was issued, banning the upstairs rooms from being used as accommodation. However a follow-up inspection in October 2012 found at least two of the bedrooms were in use and Chowdhury, as the business owner, was in breach of the notice.

Judge Lambert added: “It was utterly irresponsible and entirely illegal.

“It was an appalling risk to continue. You should have stopped using the premises there and then.”

Chowdhury, of The Park in Portishead, was sentenced to three months in prison for each of the seven charges. He will serve those terms concurrently.

The 50-year-old was also ordered to pay the fire service’s costs of £17,572.58.

Station manager Steve Quinton, from Avon Fire & Rescue Service’s technical fire safety team said: “We believe the sentence sends a strong message to restaurant and takeaway owners.

“Part of the role of the fire and rescue service is to enforce fire safety regulations which ensure public places are safe for customers and staff.

“Sleeping accommodation above a commercial kitchen represents a significant risk to life unless adequate fire protection and alarms are in place.

“Following our first inspection, Mr Chowdhury was given the opportunity to rectify the issues identified.

“His failure to act, and thereby continue to put people’s lives at risk by allowing the bedrooms to be used, was a clear breach of fire safety law.

“Restaurateurs have a duty to comply with fire safety legislation and I hope this case will show how seriously we take our responsibilities to protect the lives of people in our community.”

Chowdhury was remanded in custody following a court hearing on May 29 and has already served five weeks of his sentence.

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