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BOSSES and workers at a shisha bar, which posed so much danger to the public it had to be demolished, have been sentenced at a hearing in Manchester Crown Court.
The Oasis Lounge on Great Jackson Street, Hulme, was torn down after bosses flouted a Prohibition Notice banning people from entering the building for over a month.
Despite being made aware of safety concerns by Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) the shisha bar continued to trade, putting customers’ lives at risk.
Sentencing the six defendants, His Honour Judge Michael Leeming, said: “Those people who invested money in this enterprise put profit before the safety of the paying public.
“It was good fortune rather than good management that no fire took place. Had there been a fire the risk to life would have been catastrophic, with hundreds of panicking people heading to one or two exits in an unfamiliar building.”
Wali Yaqub aged 35, of Mauldeth Road, Burnage was sentenced to 19 months in prison in his absence after to failing to appear in court.
Mr Yakub had produced a letter claiming he was suffering from Ebola in Pakistan at an earlier hearing, but His Honour Judge Michael Leeming told the court the letter was “entirely bogus and designed to frustrate sentence proceedings.”
Tajamul Khan aged 26, of Nebo Street, Bolton was sentenced to 14 months in prison.
Yakub and Khan are now subject to proceedings under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
Ishtiaq Ahmed aged 36, of Chapelway Gardens, Royton was sentenced to 34 weeks in prison
Salma Jangeer aged 32 was sentenced to 38 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, 200 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £3500 prosecution costs.
Adeel Bhatti aged 26, of Chapel Way Gardens, Oldham was given a 12 month community order with 80 hours of unpaid work and a two month curfew.
Bushra Javed aged 25, of Stainer Street, Longsight was given 100 hours of unpaid work and ordered to pay £1500 prosecution costs.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s County Fire Officer, Peter O’Reilly, said: “We are delighted that the sentences handed down by His Honour Judge Leeming reflect the seriousness of this flagrant disregard for public safety.
“These sentences are the culmination of hundreds of hours of work by our officers partners and legal team – this is one of the most complex fire safety prosecutions ever held in the UK.
“The defendants showed a blatant disregard for fire safety. They blocked fire exits with barrels of red diesel, tore down our notices warning the public how dangerous the building was and continued to trade for six weeks after we issued a prohibition notice.
“You only need to look at what happened in Brazil in January 2013, when 241 people died in a nightclub fire, to understand how these people put their customer’s lives at risk.
“At GMFRS we do our utmost to work with businesses and help them comply with fire safety regulations.
“Prosecutions like this are a last resort – these criminals spurned our offers of help time and time again now they’ve paid the price for their actions.”