A RETIRED builder has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay £80,000 after an employee died in a fire at his home.

The local authority had told David John Lumley, 68, that no-one should sleep or live in the flat above his garage, said Sailesh Mehta, prosecuting at York Crown Court.

Lumley had agreed not to use it as accommodation in 2010 after the local authority started building regulation enforcement action against him. But at 11pm on July 16, 2017, his employee Boguslaw Szylak, 49, was living there when an electrical fault sparked a fire there.

“It spread very quickly, the fire brigade attended within minutes, but by the time the fire brigade attended the entire roof was on fire,” said Mr Mehta. “It was clear Mr Szylak was inside.”

Lumley, of Marton, near Kirkbymoorside, pleaded guilty to two fire safety breaches.

Judge Sean Morris said about the deceased: “Had that person not been living in that flat, he would be alive today.”

Lumley had been warned no-one should live in the flat, but

he had allowed someone he regarded as “part of the family” to do so.

“As a builder you should know better than to thwart that kind of regulation,” Judge Sean Morris told him.

He gave him a 10-month prison sentence suspended for 12 months, fined Lumley £40,000 and ordered him to pay the £40,000 costs of North Yorkshire Fire Authority which brought the case.

He heard Lumley had also spent “tens of thousands of pounds” on his defence costs.

The fire safety breaches were not about the fire itself, which had started accidentally by a fault in a fridge/refrigerator, York Crown Court heard.

For Lumley, Laura Nash said it was an unusual case.

He had been diagnosed with two forms of dementia, she said and handed in medical reports which included details about a stroke he had suffered.

“This man will suffer in custody,” she said. Mr Mehta said the garage had contained a container of fuel and other combustible domestic items.

From the bedroom, the only way out was through the kitchen, where the fire had started.

Speaking after the case, group manager David Winspear of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said: “We (North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service) will always investigate fatal fires and ensure legislation is being complied with, and where it isn’t seek to take appropriate action.

“In this case, due to the loss of life, prosecution was considered appropriate. The parties involved in this case were in a position of trust and responsibility.

“Considering the occupier and fire victim Mr Boguslaw Szylak who was a vulnerable person, insofar as English was not his first language, that responsibility was so much greater.

“We would like to remind business owners and landlords that it is important that they are aware of the legislative requirements they need to comply with including having an up to date fire risk assessment.”

He said the service can provide free fire safety advice to businesses and individuals.