A now former landlord has been fined £20,000 for putting the lives of five residents at risk after a broke out last year at a rented property he owned in Worthing, West Sussex.
Terry Millis, 62, of of Highview in Sompting, accepted that he had a ‘high level’ of culpability after failing to replace a faulty fire alarm in the property on Portland Road, BN11.
Brighton Magistrates’ Court heard how two people became trapped upstairs during a fire at the at a three-storey Victorian house, which is converted into flats, and although the pair escaped unhurt, one was taken to hospital and treated for smoke inhalation.
Prosecutor Michael Stoneham said: “West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service received a phone call to attend a fire in Portland Road.
“The watch manager noticed smoke issuing from the building and four of the residents were stood outside the property. The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises District judge Tessa Szagun “[The fire] was in the process of spreading to the loft.
“It was ascertained that there were two people trapped inside on the second floor of the property due to the stairs being smoke logged.”
The court was told that the blaze was caused by a cooking surface being left unattended, which Chris Chatterton, defending, pointed out was “through no fault of Mr Millis”.
Sentencing him, district judge Tessa Szagun said: “The purpose of sentencing in this type of case is to protect the safety of individuals living in such premises by ensuring that there is no financial gain by any person cutting corners.
“[There is] also a necessity to deter others from doing so.”
Millis’ £20,000 fine was reduced from an initial penalty of £30,000 thanks to his guilty plea. He was also ordered to pay £1,743.47 costs to West Sussex County Council.