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Large fine for owners of Penhallow hotel, where three people died in fire

05 May 2011 by
Large fine for owners of Penhallow hotel, where three people died in fire

The owners of a Cornish hotel destroyed by fire which killed three people have been fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £62,000 costs for failing to meet fire safety standards.

Firefighters described the fire at the 54-bedroom Penhallow hotel in Newquay, on 18 August 2007, as the worst British hotel fire in 40 years.

The victims, who all came from Staffordshire, were Monica Hughes, 86, her son Peter Hughes, 43, and Joan Harper, 80.

More than 90 people escaped from the burning four-storey building, including Mrs Harper's twin sister, Marjorie Brys.

In March 2011, the hotel's owner, O&C Holdsworth of Halifax, Yorkshire, admitted failing to ensure fire detectors and alarms were working at the hotel and failing to make an adequate risk assessment before the blaze.

At the inquest in June 2009, which returned open verdicts on all three people who died, it was revealed that the hotel was not complying with fire safety regulations introduced in 2005.

Truro Crown Court heard that the fire alarm could not be heard on the third floor, where all the people who died were staying, and that suitcases had been left in the corridor, which hampered the victims' escape. Some of the hotel's electrical wiring dated back to the 1960s.

John Hughes, whose mother and brother died, said he was pleased the owners of Penhallow had pleaded guilty and hoped lessons would be learnt by the hospitality industry.

"To lose two members of your family is beyond most people's imagination," he said. "The best thing that could come out of this is that the tourism agencies and hotels sit up and take note."

Cornwall Council and the fire service, which brought the prosecution, said they hoped the case would send out a clear message to the hotel and leisure industry: "This shows the importance of adhering to fire safety legislation and ensuring the management of fire precautions is a high priority."

Search for missing guests begin at Penhallow hotel >>

Start date for new fire regulations announced >>

Fire safety in hotels >>

By Janet Harmer

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