Fines over ‘illegal gas repairs’ in former Daventry restaurant

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The owner of a former Indian restaurant in Daventry has been fined thousands of pounds for gas safety offences that could have caused an explosion and even fatalities.

Shokat Ali, 41, from Luton, owned Papadoms restaurant in High Street in Daventry on July 1, 2011, when it was visited by a health and safety inspector from Daventry District Council.

The inspector discovered a significant release of gas from illegal and improvised repairs to a gas cooker using tin foil and black gaffer tape.

A gas engineer then found that the gas supply pipe to the kitchen hob unit had also broken and been repaired with gaffer tape.

The inspector served four health and safety improvement notices to replace the hob and a dangerous tandoori oven, which was producing extremely high levels of poisonous carbon monoxide, as well as an emergency gas on/off switch, and a ventilation safety device.

At Northampton Magistrates Court on October 31, Papadoms’ operating company Saathi Ltd was found guilty of four offences and fined a total of £6,000. The charges included the failure of the company to ensure the health and safety of company employees and customers.

Similar charges were also brought against the managing director Mr Ali, who was also fined £6,000 and ordered to pay costs of £2,500, after he admitted failing to comply with two health and safety improvement notices.

At a previous hearing in July, Papadoms’ former head chef Mr Abul Miah was convicted of carrying out the dangerous repairs and was fined £350 after admitting two offences.

Councillor Richard Atterbury, environment health portfolio holder at DDC, said: “The magistrates in this case were astonished at the lack of maintenance at the premises. Caterers must ensure that their gas appliances are inspected by a competent gas engineer every year.

“In the case of Papadoms, catering equipment had not been inspected or maintained for at least 10 years, and had it not been spotted when it was there could very well have been fatalities at the restaurant for staff or even for its customers and neighbours, so we are very pleased with the outcome of this case.

“The council has been involved in a national gas safety project for catering establishments to ensure that these sorts of matters are not found in other catering outlets.

“If caterers would like advice on gas compliance issues they should contact the Gas Safety Register or their health and safety inspector for the appropriate advice.”