THE former owner of a Knutsford Care Home has been given a 12 month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to breaches in fire safety. Richard Dickinson, 67, of Denbigh Court in Runcorn, appeared before Chester Crown Court on Friday, December 13 after pleading guilty to three counts of breaching the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005.
These related to the Rangemore Nursing Home – now operating under a new name – on Chester Road in Bucklow Hill, which was the scene of a serious fire back in October 2010. This fire resulted in six people having to be rescued from the first floor of the home. A subsequent fire investigation revealed some major shortfalls in fire safety at Rangemore and ultimately led to the prosecution of Mr Dickinson.
Speaking after the sentence, Keith Brooks, the service’s head of community fire protection, said: “The fire at Rangemore Care Home could, without doubt, have ended in tragedy if it had not been for the actions of the fire crews who attended that night. “We welcome the sentence handed out by the court as this was a serious breach of fire safety regulations which are designed to prevent this kind of event and protect life.”
Mr Dickinson was sentenced to a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He will also have to pay costs of £68,362.05.
The case was heard by Judge Elgan Edwards who praised the actions of the fire service in averting what could have been a ‘major tragedy’. He also highlighted the need for the owners and managers of homes for vulnerable people to ensure that they ensure they have the necessary fire safety measures in place. He said: “People who run these establishments must ensure that they scrupulously adhere to fire safety regulations in an establishment with vulnerable people.”
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service carry out regular inspections of business premises to ensure that they comply with what is set out in the Fire Safety Order. Mr Brooks added: “We are here to help and support any business to operate safely however, we will take action when owners and managers choose not to treat fire safety as a legitimate business requirement. “The service will continue to take action when businesses, large or small, do not take their fire safety responsibilities seriously.”
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