THE manager of Accrington Snooker Club has been found guilty of flouting a catalogue of fire safety regulations after he failed to turn up for his own court hearing.
Zafar Aslam, 25, of Claret Street, Accrington, had previously pleaded not guilty at Hyndburn Magistrates Court to a total of eight breaches of the Fire Safety Order 2005, a law which makes people responsible for safety measures on their premises.
Despite Aslam failing to appear in court, magistrates decided to proceed with the case and heard from several firemen who carried out an inspection of the Abbey Street club on 13 February.
Breaches of the regulations included:
- A faulty fire alarm.
- An exit blocked by inflammable items including games machines and a vending machine.
- Fire doors missing.
- No records for testing equipment.
- Inadequate training for staff.
The court also heard that Aslam had admitted to fire officers that there were no working extinguishers on the premises.
Acting Accrington Fire Station manager Robert Snape told the court they had been forced to issue a closure notice on the clujb until Aslam could improve safety.
They made a return visit on 14 February but were told the work had not been completed and it was not until the following day that the measures were in place.
Warren Spencer, for the prosecution, read out an interview which Aslam had with fire officers after the inspection.
In this he told his interviewers: “The person I bought the building off said the fire brigade had been in and had passed everything.”
Magistrates were also shown a number of photographs of the inside of the premises to illustrate the various safety breaches.
Mr Spencer added that he felt Aslam had shown a “disregard” for the proceedings by failing to turn up and urged magistrates to issue a warrant for his arrest without bail – which they granted.
Aslam will now reappear before Hyndburn Magistrates for sentence.
After the case, Technical and Safety Officer Phil Mayers, who was part of the inspection team, said: “If there had been a fire at the club, it is possible people would not have been able to get out.”
“We are very pleased with this result. The fire safety regulations make people responsible for safety on their premises. We are there to help people do that, but if they breach the regulations then we will take action.”