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Court cases expose maintenance risks

A pub chain has been given a £300,000 fine after a landlord died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Enterprise Inns admitted breaching health and safety regulations at the Aintree Hotel, Liverpool, during a hearing before Liverpool Crown Court.
The court heard that in 2007 landlord Paul Lee died when he fell asleep in his living room with the gas fire on.

An investigation by the HSE revealed that the chimney was blocked and that the fire had probably not been serviced since 1979.

Evidence was presented that yearly gas safety inspections should have been carried out at 868 of the company’s pubs but that only 394 actually had valid certificates.

The court also heard that Enterprise Inns had received a written warning from HSE in 2001 following a fire at one of its properties in Birmingham, when a systematic failure to implement annual gas safety checks was highlighted.

Following the case, senior HSE inspector Iain Evans commented: “It is shocking that a pub chain failed to ensure regular gas safety checks were carried out at more than 400 of its properties.

“As a result, one man has been killed and hundreds of other lives have been put at risk.

“Tests carried out on the gas fire at the Aintree Hotel showed that the workplace limit for exposure to carbon monoxide would have been exceeded within five minutes of it being turned on, and would have reached a level known to be fatal within an hour.

“Mr Lee’s life could have been saved if Enterprise Inns had continued to obey the written warning it received about gas safety six years earlier.”

A spokesman for Enterprises Inns said the company had apologised to the family of Mr Lee before adding: “Since 2007, working closely with the HSE, Enterprise Inns has done everything possible to ensure nothing like this happens again.”

Meanwhile, an inquest in Coventry on October 8 heard that two elderly neighbours died after they were severely burned when a portable gas heater exploded.

Evidence was given that Frank Adey, 80, from Coleshill, had been changing a gas bottle and attempting to fix a regulator on a portable Delonghi heater last winter for his neighbour Audrey Ward, 77, when the explosion happened.

Forensic experts said the heater was so badly damaged it was impossible to give the precise reason for the explosion.

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

See more information about the Gas Safety Trust’s Carbon Monoxide Hotspot Report on


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