£300,000 for Death
A major pub chain has been fined
£300,000 after a Merseyside landlord died from
carbon monoxide poisoning, and tenants at another
474 pubs were put at risk.
Paul Lee was found unconscious by a
cleaner at the Aintree Hotel on Aintree Road in
Bootle just after midday on 12 November 2007. He had
turned on a gas fire in his living room ten hours
earlier before falling asleep.
The 41-year-old suffered a heart
attack due to lack of oxygen on the way to the
hospital and died the following morning without
regaining consciousness. He had worked as the tenant
landlord at the pub for less than a month.
The gas fire which caused Mr Lee's
The owner of the Aintree Hotel,
Enterprise Inns plc, was prosecuted after a Health
and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that
the fire may not have been serviced since 1979 and
the chimney was completely blocked.
The West Midlands based company,
which owns approximately 7,700 pubs across the UK
and has an annual turnover of £818 million, admitted
breaching Section 3(1) of the Health and Safety at
Work etc Act 1974.
Liverpool Crown Court heard that
Enterprise Inns should have ensured that gas safety
inspections were carried out at 868 of its pubs at
least every 12 months, but that only 394 had valid
certificates. The gas heater which caused Mr Lee's
death should have been checked before he took over
Enterprise Inns also received a
written warning from HSE in 2001, following a fire
at one of its properties in Birmingham, which
highlighted a systematic failure to implement annual
gas safety checks.
Sharon Lee, Mr Lee's sister, said:
Mr Lee with his stepdaughter
"Since Paul's death nearly three
years ago, there is still anger and disbelief
amongst his family and friends that it was entirely
"Paul's death will very possibly save
the lives of others in the future, but it should not
have taken the loss of his life to highlight the
wider failings of Enterprise Inns.
"We are fully aware that Enterprise
Inns is now compliant with gas safety legislation,
but companies must not put other people's lives at
risk by allowing similar lapses to occur in the
Iain Evans, the investigating
inspector at HSE, said:
"It is shocking that a major pub
chain failed to ensure regular gas safety checks
were carried out at more than 400 of its properties.
As a result, one man has been killed and hundreds of
other lives have been put at risk.
"Tests we carried out on the gas fire
at the Aintree Hotel showed that the workplace limit
for exposure to carbon monoxide would have been
exceeded within five minutes of it being turned on,
and would have reached a level known to be fatal
within an hour.
"The chimney from the fire was
completely blocked so there was nowhere for the
carbon monoxide to escape. Instead, it gradually
built up in the room and starved Mr Lee's organs of
oxygen until he was left unconscious.
"What makes this case so tragic is
that Mr Lee's life could have been saved if
Enterprise Inns had continued to obey the written
warning it received about gas safety six years
earlier, instead of falling back into old habits."
Enterprise Inns plc, of Monkspath
Hall Road in Solihull was ordered to pay £19,000
towards the cost of the prosecution in addition to
the fine at Liverpool Crown Court on 5 October.
Gas Safe Register is the official gas
safety registration scheme in Great Britain. All gas
fitters must be Gas Safe registered to fit, fix and
service gas appliances.
landlords can check whether a gas engineer is
registered by visiting
or calling 0800 408 5500.