Landlord avoids jail after man’s 40% burns in fire horror

A landlord has escaped jail after failing to have proper fire safety precautions after a man suffered life-threatening 40 per cent burns when he was trapped in his room.

Warwick Crown Court heard that the victim, suffered after another resident deliberately started a fire in a Coventry multiple occupancy house.

Simon Fox (55) of Common Lane, Polesworth, had denied fire safety offences in relation to the house in Humber Road, Coventry but pleaded guilty to failing to take general fire precautions, placing people in danger in the event of a fire.

Warwick Crown Court heard that an arson incident occurred when an intoxicated ground-floor resident, who has since been jailed for three years, started a fire in her room.

The victim was rescued by firefighters who had found him unconscious in his room and was rushed to University Hospital in Coventry before being transferred to a specialised burns unit in London.

An investigation subsequently revealed there was no interlinked automatic fire detection system, and although there were some individual smoke detectors, the one on the kitchen, where there was no fire blanket, had no battery in it.

There were no smoke detectors in one of the ground floor bedrooms and two of the first-floor rooms.

Fox was sentenced to four months in prison suspended for two years and ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work. He was also fined him £25,000 to be paid by the end of August next year, with 15 months in prison in default, and £24,300 costs.

The judge said, “The ensuring of proper fire precautions in properties in multi-occupation is a matter of life and death. It is no exaggeration to say that, it is a literal truth.

“But at the age of 55 you are a man of good character, and I accept you seek to act as a responsible businessman.

“This is far from a reckless disregard for the safety of tenants, but you did not take the precautions you should have taken.”

Woman jailed for nine months for £80,000 benefit fraud

A woman from Truro has been jailed for benefits fraud after claiming that she was single while living with her husband.

Helen Salunga, 47, pleaded guilty to four counts of defrauding the Department for Work and Pensions, Cornwall Council and HM Revenue and Customs.

Truro Crown Court heard that Salunga fraudulently claimed £80,506.48 in total.

The first charge related to tax credits claimed from 2009 to 2014 when she told the authorities she was a single person although she was living with her husband who earned between £17,000 to £23,000 per year.

Truro Crown Court further heard that Salunga alleged she was single on her claim for housing benefits between 2010 to 2014, falsified pay slips to help her claims and falsely claimed she was unemployed for Jobseekers’ Allowance in March 2013.

The money was reportedly sent abroad to the Philippines for her family’s medical expenses.

Judge Simon Carr said: “You pleaded guilty at the first opportunity to a very significant benefit fraud. I accept completely that you were sending all or some of the money to family in the Philippines.

“While having sympathy for that situation when a limited public financial purse is used in a way it is not intended it could prevent others receiving benefits they should.”

Salunga was sentenced to a nine-month prison sentences for all four charges.

Man aged 80, admits 10 year benefit fraud

An 80-year-old man has received a six-month suspended prison sentence for a £19,000 ten-year benefit fraud.

However, upon further investigation about his pension credit claims, benefit officers discovered he and his wife had not claimed all the social security they were entitled to. As a result they increased their benefits.

York magistrates heard that James Barker pleaded guilty to three charges of benefit fraud committed over ten years involving three different benefits.

Barker was jailed for 24 weeks, but York magistrates suspended the prison sentence for two years on condition he doesn’t commit any offences. Barker was further ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs.

Barker’s solicitor Vicky Latham said, “It was his genuine, albeit mistaken belief it was employment he didn’t have to declare.”

Ms Latham added that both Barker and his wife, who will celebrate their 56th wedding anniversary this year, suffered several health problems.

The couple, who were each other’s carers, had not been aware that this entitled them to attendance allowances until benefit officers had told them so following the investigation in his offences