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Fire safety breaches at Norfolk mansion could have resulted in death, court hears

PUBLISHED: 15:42 24 October 2018 | UPDATED: 15:42 24 October 2018

Norwich Magistrates' Court . Picture: Adrian Judd

Norwich Magistrates' Court . Picture: Adrian Judd

Archant

A lack of fire safety measures at a stately Norfolk mansion that was being advertised as a holiday house sleeping up to 36 people could have resulted in “serious injury or death”, a court has heard.

On Wednesday, Norwich Magistrates’ Court fined Olena Lobunets, who is responsible for the premises, £2000 for failing to comply with requirements imposed by a fire inspector.

Lobunets, of Clermont Hall in Little Cressingham, was found guilty of two counts of failing without reasonable excuse to respond to a letter from a fire safety officer requiring information in respect of the premises.

David Lowens, prosecuting, read to the court a witness statement from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service safety officer Christopher Soames.

The court heard that in October 2016 Mr Soames visited Clermont Hall, at the time being advertised as a holiday house sleeping up to 36 people, after having received information there was a lack of fire safety control measures there.

Mr Soames found “serious fire safety breaches that would have resulted in serious injury or death of occupants if there was a fire”, the court was told.

There were no fire doors, fire detection or warning alarms, no fire-extinguishers, no emergency lights, no notices of what to do in the event of a fire, and the travel distance from all floors to the place of safety was excessive, the court heard.

The officer served a notice prohibiting the use of the premises as a holiday house, the court was told.

The court heard that Mr Soames visited Clermont Hall again in May last year and that there had been some minor changes but that the fire alarm system was inadequate.

The premises was supplied with electricity by two large generators in the back lawn, wired in through the premises’ back window, the court heard.

Mr Soames wrote to Ms Lobunets asking for information on the premises but she did not respond and in March this year he went to Clermont Hall, met with her and discussed the necessity of responding to the letters, but she said she did not read them and instead put them straight in the bin, the court was told.

Chairman of the bench, Colonel Howard Gill, said the court found Ms Lobunets guilty on both counts and fined her £1000 for each offence.

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