Appeal against safety breaches conviction dismissed

An appeal against a conviction for breaches of safety regulations at a multi-occupied house in Tuebrook has been dismissed at Liverpool Crown Court.

Sutton Estates Limited and company directors Neil Francis Heffey of Moss Lane, Orrell Park, and Dorothy Monk of  Walton Hall Avenue, were found guilty between them of  a total of 54 breaches of Management Regulations aimed at ensuring the safety of tenants.

They were convicted in their absence at Liverpool Magistrates Court in March 2014

Sutton Estates Limited, the agents for the property, were fined a total of £5500 and ordered to pay £1603 costs. Dorothy Monk was found was fined a total of £1100 and ordered to pay £1603 costs. Neil Heffey was fined a total of £5500 and ordered to pay £3792.40 costs.

Mr David Katz, the property owner was found guilty of all counts and was fined a total of £3,200 and ordered to pay £1603 costs. He did not appeal against his conviction.

The court was told that in September 2012 Environmental Health Officers visited  a house in West Derby Road, which had been converted into six self-contained flats over four floors.

They found that the fire alarm system was inoperative and displaced from the wall, the electricity supply had been by-passed to a number of flats and the fire separation between the ground and floors above was compromised due to gaps in the internal structure coupled with poor workmanship. At the time of the inspection four of the six flats were occupied.

In the two unoccupied flats open gas supply pipework  had not been capped following the removal of the gas central heating boiler. This situation was deemed immediately dangerous and action was taken in partnership with GAS SAFE to isolate the gas supply and make the situation safe.

Further inspections of the occupied flats identified problems with the unauthorised work on the gas central heating boilers, ill-fitting and damaged fire doors, poor internal layout, penetrating dampness and general issues of disrepair which both the landlord and agent had failed to address despite repeated requests from the tenants.

In dismissing the appeal Judge Wright said Sutton Estate was a family run business and Mr Heffey was the guiding force behind the business.

He said managing agents need to have greater inclination regarding  the management of  Houses in Multiple Occupation. “Neil Heffey neglected his duties, neglected in his management, there were no regular checks, no evidence of a regime of regular checks and the only visits were of a reactive nature rather than proactive.”

Further costs of £26, 897 were awarded to the city council and Judge Wright ordered that the costs would have to be paid individually or collectively should any of the defendants fail to pay.