Swingers’ club manager spared jail over fire safety breaches

Katherine High.
Katherine High.

The manager of a Sunderland swingers’ club has been spared jail for a string of safety breaches.

Katherine High admitted the fire safety breaches at private members club Vivente in the Hendon area of Sunderland.

Vivente, Hudson Road, Sunderland

Vivente, Hudson Road, Sunderland

High, 40, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court which heard there were “naked flames” in the building, while there were also “physical restraints”.

Prosecutor David Claxton said the safety breaches could have led to a ‘substantial loss of life’.

Mr Claxton told the court there were two basements in the property which were filled with beds, stocks and “equipment of physical restraint”.

A fire service safety audit in 2015 found the front door and only escape route was locked, with the key held by club boss High, and the back door was roller-shuttered, a court heard at a previous hearing.

Mr Claxton told the court: “The failure to take fire safety precautions in the presence of candles formed the basis of the first charge.

“There was a bedroom, a locker room and private rooms with more restraints.

“It is important to know that this was a place where there were naked flames.

“There were cigarette butts and candles found, but on the time on inspection they were not lit.”

High, of Archer Road, Farringdon, Sunderland, whose club has since shut down, pleaded guilty to five counts of health and safety breaches at a previous hearing.

The court heard that up to 60 revellers could be crammed into the property at any given time.

High was sentenced to six months imprisonment suspended for 12 months.

Defending solicitor Duncan Emerson said at a previous hearing his client deserved credit for pleading guilty at the earliest possible opportunity and cooperating fully with the investigation.

He said that the place was in a bad state because it was undergoing a refurbishment mandated by a council inspection which was carried out after the initial rejection of the club’s licence was overturned on appeal.