The owner of the Blue Bicycle restaurant faces an £8,662 court bill because he broke fire safety laws for years in two flats above the business according to

Six people lived in the accommodation when fire broke out there on April 6, 2013, Karen Galloway for North Yorkshire Fire Authority told York magistrates.

Fire officers had warned property developer Lawrence Anthony Stephenson that he needed to improve safety in the two Fossgate flats in 2008 and 2012 but he had failed to install fire doors and adequate smoke detectors, among other lapses.

“The officers believed there was a risk of death or serious injury,” said the solicitor. “It is a fundamental duty of a landlord to provide fire safety within a building. Had the work been carried out in March 2008, it is fair to say there would not have been the fire.”

Stephenson, 71, of Derwent Lane, Dunnington, who owns 13 residential and commercial properties in York, pleaded guilty to failure to comply with fire safety regulations and failure to ensure fire systems were properly installed and maintained, both from March 19, 2008, to April 6, 2013.

Magistrates fined him £7,000 with £1,542.86 prosecution costs and £120 statutory surcharge. He took over the upmarket restaurant in Fossgate in 2003 when its previous owners had financial difficulties.

The charges related to the two flats above the restaurant only.

His solicitor, Nick Darwin, said Stephenson had been planning to carry out safety improvements at the flats before the fire and the work was completed within a fortnight of the fire. One smoke alarm in the flats had activated.

“It was a case of other things taking priority and he is very apologetic and has been throughout this investigation and (court) proceedings,” said Mr Darwin. “He certainly has learnt his lesson.”

Stephenson’s other residential properties were properly protected against fires.

Miss Galloway said the fire started in a towel left on a storage heater and was put out by a bucket of water. No-one was injured, but because of the lack of fire safety fire officers closed the flats until they deemed them safe. The flats were occupied by language students and restaurant employees.

A suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment should have been completed on this building and advised the landlord of the issues found, this would have saved him time, money and an expensive court case and made the residents more safe. Contact us on 01243 811470 or use our online contact form.