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Landlord Jailed Over Fire In Flat

Landlord fails to provide adequate fire safety protection


Safety breaches that resulted in a teenage tenant suffering 80% burns following a fire have seen her landlord jailed.

Michael Billings was jailed for two-and-a-half years after the 19-year-old barmaid was badly hurt in the blaze at her flat in Norwich.

Norwich Crown Court sentenced the landlord, of Beccles, Suffolk, after Layla Skalli was given a less than 1% chance of survival following the incident last year.

Judge Paul Downes also ordered Billings, who admitted the breaches, to pay £20,000 costs, said a spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive.

One HSE inspector said the case was the "most distressing" he had seen in more than 30 years.

"Only pioneering skin grafting techniques saved Layla Skalli's life after she suffered 80% deep tissue burns all over her body," said the spokesman.

"Virtually all the skin below her neck was destroyed by the intense 600 degree heat as the property above a mobile phone shop became a raging inferno."

He added: "Tenants in three adjoining properties were lucky to escape."

The spokesman said Billings, in his 50s, failed to provide "even the most basic protection" for tenants.

He said the landlord had not fitted a working fire alarm system, installed the correct number of fire doors or provided adequate means of escape.

Gas appliances in the flats above the shop had also not been serviced or properly inspected, he added.

Copyright © Press Association 2010

Katrina Elsey, of Irwin Mitchell's Public Liability team, said: "It is important that Landlords do not cut corners when renting out their properties to tenants as this could lead to hefty fines or even imprisonment.
"Landlords have a duty to their tenants to ensure that premises are safe and regularly inspected. Failure to do so could lead to personal injury which the Landlord could then become responsible for."