Death house landlord admits boiler safety breach

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A GUEST house landlord has admitted failing to ensure a boiler and its equipment were maintained – but does not believe the kit was responsible for the death of one of its residents.

Kaiser Javeed Choudry, who owns the Albert Guest House in Front Street, Shotton Colliery, has pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the boiler and flue in the basement of the building was maintained in a safe condition to prevent risk or injury, between March 2009 and March 2011.

He also admitted failing to check them in a 12-month period since their last review in March 2008, at a hearing held at Peterlee Magistrates’ Court.

However, the 45-year-old, of Atkinson Grove in the village, has pleaded on the basis the boiler did not cause the death of 58-year-old Raymond Iley, who died in one of the flats inside the guest house. At Mr Iley’s inquest a narrative verdict was returned that his death, in January 2011, was caused by breathing toxic fumes from a faulty central heating boiler.

The hearing had resumed after coroner Andrew Tweddle adjourned it so the case could be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider whether to bring criminal charges.

While it decided no charges would be put to Choudry, Durham County Council has taken up the case as a breach of health and safety laws.

Chris Morrison, defending during the magistrates’ court hearing, said: “It is contested that failing to maintain the boiler was the cause of Mr Iley’s death.”

He added the room where Mr Iley had been staying had windows and ventilation vents at height.

Catherine Burgess, prosecuting on behalf of the council, said: “The boiler was the only appliance in the property at the time, and it is our submission it was the cause of death.”

A Newton hearing will be held on Tuesday, July 16, to determine the facts of the case, which will help magistrates agree a sentence, or may lead the bench to send the case on to a crown court, which has a greater range of sentencing powers.

The session is expected to last a day and will hear evidence from witnesses including gas engineering experts.

A third charge of breaching the Health and Safety at Work Act by exposing employees to risk was withdrawn during the hearing.

Mr Iley died along with 20 of his budgies inside the flat.