The Golden Grill's co-leaseholder Nafiz Karaca pleaded guilty to one offence of failing to comply with a Prohibition Notice in line with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
At the hearing at Eastbourne Magistrates Court (15 January) Mr Karaca was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay full court costs £2454.10 and a court surcharge of £150 in a move which Group Manager Richard Fowler described as "being among the most serious that ESFRS encounters".
"Dangerous conditions had been identified and Mr Karaca was instructed not to allow sleeping above the shop, yet staff were discovered sleeping there on several occasions," added the Head of Business Safety for ESFRS.
"The fine handed down by the court today reflects the serious nature of the offence. Owners of any premises where the Fire Service has served a formal legal notice are reminded of the importance of complying with the notice and of the potential consequences of not doing so."
In February 2012, following a complaint received by East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS), Inspecting Officers visited the premises, then trading as Kebab No 5, and issued a Prohibition Notice. The Notice made it clear that no persons were to sleep or be accommodated on the premises until the fire safety arrangements in the premises were improved.
In June 2012 Mr Karaca took over the lease for the premises, which opened as the Golden Grill in July 2012. In October 2013 Inspecting Officers visited the premises to check that the Prohibition Notice was being complied with and discovered a number of people sleeping there, in direct contravention of the notice. Mr Karaca was issued an 'informal caution' stating that ESFRS did not intend to prosecute on this occasion but that if there were further breaches of fire safety legislation in the future, the Service would have to seriously consider this course of action.
The premises was visited again in November 2014 to check the Prohibition Notice was being complied with. Once again people were found to be sleeping on the premises. ESFRS commenced an investigation into the latest contravention, during which the Prohibition Notice was discovered to have been contravened for a third time on 30 June 2015. The Service therefore deemed it necessary to bring a prosecution.
In sentencing Mr Karaca, the Magistrates said: "We are very concerned, as most people are, that fire prevention is a key part of people’s safety’. In determining the level of the fine, the Magistrates took account of Mr Karaca’s early guilty plea, cooperation and the Prohibition Notice having since been lifted and reduced the fine from £1,500 to £1,000."