The death of two young brothers in a house fire has been blamed on a letting agent who had repeatedly refused to fit smoke alarms at a rented house in Huddersfield (picture, above) a court heard yesterday.
It is alleged that 51-year-old property manager Kamal Bains, who at the time was the sole director of Huddersfield-based letting agency Prime Property Estates Yorkshire Ltd, had been asked by the couple, who had been renting the house since 2015, to fit the alarms but had failed to do so.
It was also found that Bains (pictured, left) had failed to fit smoke alarms at many of the other 140 properties his company managed in and around Huddersfield, the court heard.
The deaths took place in February 2016 when parent Emma Taylor put two of her children to bed upstairs in the property for an afternoon nap, putting on a TV in the children’s bedroom to help them get to sleep.
An electrical fault in the television then began a fire but before she noticed something was wrong, a significant blaze had broken out and, despite help from neighbours, the smoke and flames beat them back. The two boys, aged two and three years old, died of smoke inhalation.
In court Allan Compton, prosecuting, described Bains’s failure to fit smoke alarms within the property – which has been a legal requirement since 2015 – as “inexcusable”. Bains had permission to spend up to £150 on repairs and maintenance without reference to the landlord.
‘Fobbed me off’
“He didn’t really seem bothered. As long as he got his rent money, he was happy for me to live like that with my kids,” Emma Taylor told the court. “He just fobbed me off.”
Bains, who claims he fitted alarms to the property but that the couple removed them, denies two counts of manslaughter by gross negligence and failing to discharge an employer’s duty.
Tests carried out on the property showed that if a smoke detector had been fitted, the mother would have had six minutes to save her sons.
The business operated by Bains (pictured, right) has since been dissolved and an agent of a different name is now operating at its former premises. The case continiues.