A GUEST house owner has been ordered to pay more than £20,000 in costs and fines for a catalogue of fire regulation breaches uncovered after two arson attacks on his premises.

Kaiser Javeed Choudry’s appearance in Peterlee Magistrates’ Court yesterday follows fires at Albert Guest House, in Front Street, Shotton Colliery near Peterlee, which accommodated vulnerable adults at the time.

Lee Wilcockson, prosecuting for the County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, said firefighters were called to large blaze on the first floor of the premises on January 17 last year.

There were 12 people in the property at the time, three of whom had to be rescued - including a woman who required overnight hospital treatment. The fire had been deliberately started by a resident.

An inspection revealed a number of safety breaches, including a fire door with its handles taken and wedged open and another with its self-closing mechanism removed.

Graham Jamieson, mitigating said the faults were caused by workers, who were redecorating at the time.

Choudry gave undertakings rectify the problems and not to use the first floor for residents.

But less than four months later, on May 8, a fire was deliberately started by another resident in a storage cupboard under the stairs. This time two people had to be let out of the first floor.

The same problems were found with the doors, while in a further breaches a cupboard containing combustibles had not been locked and a fire risk assessment had not been done.

Mr Jamieson said first floor of premises was not in use at the time and the people there been trespassing.

He added, Choudry had handed the running of the property to his daughter and it no longer accommodated the homeless or vulnerable.

The 49-year-old of Atkinson Grove, Shotton Colliery, admitted three breaches of fire safety regulations, while he pleaded guilty on behalf of his company Hyatt Accommodation Services to several further charges.

He was fined £8,166 and ordered to pay £12,000 in costs, while the company was fined £700.

In passing sentence, district judge Kristina Harrison said she had some sympathy with Choudry.

She said: “The problem, I think, is the type of people he was trying to accommodate, which are some of the most vulnerable in society, sometimes perhaps don’t appreciate it and have on two separate occasions set fire to in his premises, which has no doubt resulted in substantial loss to Mr Choudry.”

Chief fire officer Stuart Errington: “We are pleased that Mr Choudry has pleaded guilty to the charges and we are urging other business premises to recognised their responsibilities and ensure they have suitable and sufficient fire risk assessment and management practices in place to ensure the safety of workers and members of the public.”