Yorkshire landlord charged with gross negligence manslaughter for having no smoke alarms

A landlord of a house in Huddersfield, Yorkshire has gone on trial to answer two counts of gross negligence manslaughter and one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act, as a result of a fire in which two children were killed.

The brothers, aged three and two years old, died from smoke inhalation following the blaze which started in their bedroom at Alder Street, Fartown in February 2017. The rest of the family escaped from the fire.

Giving evidence at the trial of Kamal Baines, the manager of the rented semi-detached property, the children’s mother, Emma Taylor said that she had repeatedly asked Mr Baines to fit smoke alarms. She said that she had told him he was breaking the law after she read an article about the mandatory requirement for them to be fitted in rented accommodation.

She alleges that Mr Baines had promised to have the alarms fitted but had failed to do so.

According to the Press Association, Ms Taylor told Leeds Crown Court, “He didn’t really seem bothered. As long as he got his rent money, he was happy for me to live like that with my kids. He just fobbed me off.”

A fire investigation confirmed that no smoke alarms had been fitted.

The prosecutor, Mr Compton, said tests showed that a smoke alarm on the upstairs landing would have activated between 10 minutes, 32 seconds and 11 minutes after ignition.

This meant, he said, that a working smoke alarm would have given Ms Taylor five minutes to rescue her children.

The prosecutor said Mr Bains would have been ‘fully aware’ of this. He said Mr Bains told detectives that all of his properties had smoke alarms but tenants would take them down when they sounded.

He said previous tenants at the property had also complained about a lack of alarms and one was told she needed to fit one herself.

Mr Compton informed the jury that the landlord had told the police there were smoke alarms installed when the family moved in but fire investigators found no trace of them.

 

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