Suspended sentence for Crewe bar owner who breached fire safety regulations

The director of a Crewe property comprising a bar, takeaway and flats has been given a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to serious breaches of fire safety regulations.

Christopher Colebourne, the sole director of Oddies Bar Crewe Ltd, pleaded guilty to seven counts of failing to comply with the Fire Safety (Regulatory Reform) Order 2005 at Chester Crown Court on Thursday (23 March).

Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service brought the charges after firefighters were called to a fire in a kitchen shared by the two flats above the bar and adjacent Pizza Haven on Edleston Road on Saturday 3 August 2019. The crews raised concerns about the ease with which smoke had spread throughout the escape routes serving the flats.

A fire safety officer identified serious fire safety deficiencies including failures:

  • to take measures to reduce the risk of the spread of fire on the premises

  • to ensure that the premises was equipped with appropriate fire detectors and alarms

  • to ensure that people could evacuate the premises as quickly and safely as possible

  • to ensure that the fire alarm and emergency lighting systems had been serviced by a competent contractor and tested locally.

Sentencing, Judge Simon Berkson, said:

“This was a very dangerous premises that you were responsible for and a number of people were clearly put at risk. If that fire had taken hold if would have caused serious problems.”

He ordered Mr Colebourne to be sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and undertake a 35-day rehabilitation order and 150 hours unpaid work. He also ordered him to pay a £700 fine and £7,000 costs to Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Welcoming the sentencing, Lee Shears, Assistant Chief Fire Officer for Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“This case shows how our firefighters and fire safety teams work together to keep our communities safe. Had the fire spread that day it could easily have put the occupants at risk of death or serious injury.

“We work hard to help business owners to understand their responsibilities when it comes to fire safety, but as this case highlights we will not hesitate to pursue prosecution if they fail to comply. Fire safety must be taken seriously."

Last updated: Friday, 26 May 2023