The owner of the Park Hotel in Paignton has been given a suspended prison sentence for fire safety failures.
David Schofield, owner of the Park Hotel on the Esplanade in Paignton, was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for two years, at Exeter Crown Court on Friday, 25th June.
He had previously pleaded guilty to seven offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
Schofield had stated at a previous hearing that the offences were not deliberate and that he did his best regarding the hotel.
Judge Wassell added that, had Schofield not had good character and no previous convictions, he would have been sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Schofield was also ordered to pay the full costs of £9,274.
In summing up prior to sentencing, Judge Wassell said: “I need to send a very serious message to hotel owners. The failures at this hotel were a potential tragedy in waiting. The number of defects was just hair-raising.
“To receive complaints from guests, some heard a fire alarm some did not, that 28 fire doors had failed to close properly, that 10 were not even fire doors. Furthermore, there were dangerous electrics, that there were elderly people staying at the hotel and exit doors were wedged shut. There were a catalogue of dangerous findings at the hotel and the fire service was quite right in closing it down.
“Anyone running a hotel in this dangerous condition needs to know the seriousness with which these matters are taken and with that only a custodial sentence will do. In terms of failings it is difficult to imagine one worse.
“I would like to compliment the fire service on the case that they have brought, the evidence and how the case was put forward.”
The offences related to failures of the fire safety standards at the Park Hotel in 2014, including:
• Not having an adequate working fire alarm system
• A large number of the fire doors in the premises not meeting the required standard
• Large amounts of flammable materials stored throughout the hotel
• Breaks in the fire separation between areas in the premises
• Poor planning in case of an emergency
• Inadequate means of escape in case of fire and poor standards of maintenance.
Station Manager Glen Wells, Fire Protection Officer for Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service, said: “I have inspected hundreds of hotels over the last 29 years and the Park Hotel in Paignton has to be among one of the worst for the sheer number of things that were wrong regarding fire safety matters at the premises.
“Had there been a fire there the residents and staff would have been at very serious risk of death or injury as a result of the poor fire safety standards.”
Station Manager Wells added: “Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service is committed to ensuring that hotels and guest houses in both counties meet the required standards of the fire safety legislation, and people that use them are quickly made aware of any fire and can safely evacuate.
“Where premises fail to meet these standards and those failures place people at risk of death or serious injury in the event of a fire then the Service will take necessary action against the people responsible.”