A managing director of the former Tokyo night club in Lincoln has been found guilty of putting the lives of staff and revellers at risk in 2013.
Aaron Mellor, 44, appeared at Lincoln Magistrates Court between April 21 and 24, and was found guilty on May 6 of 11 offences under the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. He is set to appear at Lincoln Crown Court for sentencing on May 22.
Lincolnshire Fire & Rescue visited Tokyo in Silver Street in April 1, 2013 and discovered lives were being put in danger according to fire safety regulations.
The offences included failing to take general fire precautions required to ensure the premises were safe, which could have resulted in one or more people being at serious risk of injury or death.
Fire exits had been blocked by rubbish bags, chairs and tables, and in the basement area of the club, where there was a maximum capacity of 280 people, there were 460 on the night in question.
The establishment had unclear fire exit signs and routes that were not correctly illuminated with emergency lighting of adequate intensity in the case of the normal lighting failing.
The premises also had emergency doors locked and could not be immediately opened by any person who may require to use them in an emergency.
Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue is legally responsible for making sure that premises have preventative and protective measures in place in case there is a fire.
Keiron Davey, Technical Community Fire Prevention Manager, said: “We offer advice and support to local businesses to make sure their premises are safe, however we will take action against those who are seriously breaching the regulations or have disregard for safety in the event of fire.
“Significant changes were made to this building to convert it into a night club which left it without a sufficient number of fire exits.
“In the event of a fire, people enjoying their night or serving drinks would have struggled to escape to safety.
“Considering fire safety isn’t an option, it is the law. It works exactly the same as health and safety legislation – if you ignore it there isn’t a warning and it will be treated as failing to comply.”
— Later update: Aaron Mellor said: “The facts of the case are complicated and I’ve been charged as the sole company director at the time, despite proper and robust systems being in place at the time of the incident in 2013.
“The company is appalled that previous management failed to carry out basic pre-opening checks.
“The safety of our customers should always be our top priority and we instil that into all of our staff.
“We would like to apologise and assure everyone that we acted immediately to rectify the issues and have had no subsequent problems, we wish to ensure it never happens again.”