£25,000 fine for ‘death trap’ pub.

18 May 2016


A publican has been ordered to pay more than £30,000 in fines and costs for fire safety breaches following a fire at a Hertfordshire pub.

In 2014, the Bell pub in Hoddesdon suffered a fire. A subsequent investigation by Hertfordshire County Council identified multiple, serious safety breaches. This included the main fire alarm not being fully operational, ineffective fire doors and emergency lighting, a smoke detector had also been disabled by being covered with plastic.


The pub’s leaseholder, Graeme Kerry, appeared at St Albans Crown Court on 13 May and pleaded guilty to breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. He was fined £25,000 and ordered to pay £6,819 in costs within 12 months.

 In his sentencing remarks the judge indicated that what was revealed by the fire was ‘genuinely frightening’. He described the main alarm system as ‘scandalously bad’ and ‘bluntly useless’. Furthermore, he added, there was no proper system for the maintenance or checking of the fire system. This was despite the fact that Kerry had been made aware of difficulties beforehand and had an opportunity to put things straight. He remarked that Kerry was running a ‘death trap’.

 In mitigation, Kerry said he leased the pub and employed people to carry out the day-to-day running, which he said included fire safety. He also said that since the incident he had provided training to the staff and was now selling the business.

 After the hearing, Hertfordshire County Council cabinet member for community safety Richard Thake said: ‘The court has recognised the seriousness of these offences in the large financial penalty imposed. It is extremely fortunate that no-one was killed or injured in the fire at the pub.’

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