Hospitality & Leisure Sector

Hotel owners convicted of catalogue of fire safety failings

Health & Safety update 14/03/2012

The former owners of Wolverhapton’s Connaught Hotel are facing a major fine, after they were found guilty of turning the hotel into a “death trap” by ignoring a catalogue of fire safety rules.

A jury at Wolverhampton Crown Court found the property’s former owners, Connaught Hotel West Midlands Ltd, guilty this week of 11 charges of breaching fire safety precautions, in charges stemming from the fire that ripped through the business in October 2007.

Investigators who examined the building following the blaze found fire alarms and detector not working or absent altogether, fire exits that were blocked by wardrobes and computer equipment and a fire door without a handle.

The former owners of the Tattenhall Road hotel had denied the charges brought against them, but the jury took 55 minutes to convict them.

The prosecuting counsel, Mark Jackson, had told the court that many of the people in the hotel at the time of the fire only realised something was wrong when they heard other people screaming and shouting.

“The fact no-one died or was seriously injured in the fire was good fortune,” he explained. “All of the people staying there were at risk from this catalogue of failures and fire safety breaches.”

The hotel was subsequently sold on to the Best Western chain, but has since become independently owned.

Judge Martin Walsh adjourned sentencing on the matter in order for information on the company’s profits to be collected and presented to the court.

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