Arson flats owner faces fire safety charges

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The owner of a block of flats where two young jockeys died in an arson attack will stand trial next year accused of fire safety breaches.

The nine charges were not put to landlord Alan Foster, 65, at Leeds Crown Court yesterday but his counsel Philip Standfast indicated he was denying them all.

He is being prosecuted by North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority following the blaze in September 2009 which killed Jamie Kyne, 18 and Jan Wilson, 19 at Buckrose Court, Norton, Malton.

He faces five charges between March 5 and September 6 2009 relating to Flats 1-9 The Tannery, Buckrose Court, first that he failed to take reasonable fire precautions to ensure the premises were safe, the failure of which could place someone at risk of death or serious injury.

Secondly that he failed to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to which residents were exposed for the purpose of identifying the general fire precautions needed.

The third charge alleges failure to ensure that in the event of danger people could be evacuated from the premises by allowing the storage of combustible and other materials in and around staircases which could have caught fire and obstructed the exit route.

The fourth offence alleges that he failed to establish appropriate precautions in the way of evacuation procedures to be followed in the event of imminent and serious danger and in the fifth charge that he failed to ensure a suitable system of maintenance for fire safety devices including the fire detection and alarm system and emergency lighting.

Foster also faces two charges of failing to take reasonable precautions and to make a risk assessment at Flats 1-12 Buckrose House, between September 4 and November 13 2009 and two similar offences relating to the same flats on August 18 last year.

Labourer Peter Brown was jailed for manslaughter after starting a fire which killed the two young jockeys who were trapped on the top floor.