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A landlord has been jailed in a landmark case for failing to fit smoke alarms in a rental property, leading to the death of two young boys in a blaze.
Landlord Kamal Bains was told that his failure to install smoke detectors in a property in Huddersfield was a ‘significant cause’ of the deaths of Logan Taylor and Jake Case, aged two and three respectively.
An electrical fault in a TV caused a fire in the boys’ bedroom in February 2016. The boys mother was not able to reach her children due to the strength of the fire. The property had no smoke alarms and it was deemed that this was likely to have had an impact on whether or not the boys could have been saved.
Bains was the director of property management company Prime Property Estates (Yorkshire) which maintained around 140 homes in Huddersfield on behalf of private landlords, taking a 10 per cent cut of the rent. Bains had initially been on trial for manslaughter, however the charges were dropped after he plead guilty to a breach of health and safety law.
West Yorkshire Police said that the landmark prosecution was the first to be brought since legislation was passed in October 2015 requiring that all private sector landlords have at least one smoke alarm installed on every storey of their properties.
Ms Taylor told the court that she asked Bains ‘time after time’ to fit a fire alarm in the property.
Sentencing him on Wednesday, Mr Justice Males, told him: ‘Your failure to fit smoke alarms was a significant cause of the children’s deaths. Thus the harm caused by your failure could not have been more serious.’
Ms Taylor and Mr Casey, the boys’ father, said in statement after the hearing: ‘We do hope that this case highlights this important issue and for people to know their responsibilities as landlords or letting agents and to take appropriate action to ensure that any property they are responsible for has working smoke alarms. Such a simple check could have saved the lives of our boys and we want to ensure that this does not happen to anyone else.’
West Yorkshire’s Deputy Chief Fire Officer, Dave Walton, said: ‘Had there been working smoke alarms in this property, the outcome could have been very different and these brothers could have had a future to look forward to. As firefighters, the importance of having working smoke alarms is a message that we try and get over to the public day in and day out. This landmark case shows how vitally important it is that landlords and letting agents take their responsibilities seriously or the consequences do not bear thinking about.’