A RESTAURANT owner has been hit with a £2,000 fine and narrowly escaped a prison sentence for not having a suitable fire alarm system at his Reading business.

Mr Sharhan Safie of Paya Restaurant, London Street, was brought before the courts after a number of serious safety concerns for the restaurant were raised by Royal Berkshire Fire Authority.

Not having a suitable fire alarm system was just one of a string of offences against the business owner which came to light following a safety inspection.

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Officers found a number of serious breaches, including failure to protect the means of escape, a lack of sufficient fire doors or fire doors that were in place were in a poor state of repair, no suitable fire alarm system, no fire safety drill procedure and defective emergency lighting, amongst other breaches.

Mr Safie then failed to undertake a fire risk assessment and to make adequate fire safety arrangements following the inspection.

The then business owner Mr Safie pleaded guilty to nine charges all relating to breaches of the Fire Safety Order at Reading Magistrates Court on November 8, 2019.

Given the serious nature of the breaches, the case was sent to Crown Court for sentencing.

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He was sentenced on July 3, 2020, to a seven-month custody, suspended for 18 months and at least 10 days Rehabilitation Activity Requirement Order and 180 hours of unpaid community work, which will begin once the Covid-19 control measures are eased.

He also received a £2,000 fine.

Jess James, Group Manager for the Fire Safety Legal, Technical and Enforcement Hub, said: “This prosecution highlights that while we will always seek to work with business owners to maintain fire safety standards in premises with prosecution considered as a last resort, we do also have a duty to keep our communities safe and this case is evidence that if our residents are put at risk, we won’t hesitate to prosecute.”