Coventry firm fined thousands after customer's horror fall at The Pilot pub

The incident happened under the previous ownership of the pub, back in 2022
-Credit: (Image: Google Street map)

A Coventry business and associated director have been hit with a huge fine after a customer fell down a flight of stairs into a pub basement. Coventry City Council has said that the unidentified victim still feels the impact of the injuries they suffered during the horrific fall two years on.

The member of the public visited The Pilot in Burnaby Road back on February 12, 2022 and made their way through the pub in a bid to find the toilets. But they accidentally went through an unlocked staff door - yet were not stopped.

It led to the customer walking through the staff corridor to another door, which led directly on to what has been described as a 'steep flight of stairs' down to an unused basement. They fell and suffered injuries to both their face and body.

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The Company, Pilot Entertainment Ltd (PEL) and director, Gulrez Akhtar, pleaded guilty to a number of charges at Birmingham Magistrates Court on February 23, it has been announced today, Tuesday, May 28. On May 20, the company was fined £16,750 and ordered to pay investigation costs of £12,883.85 and a victim surcharge of £1,670.

Mr Akhtar, in his role as company director, was separately fined £933 and ordered to pay further investigation costs of £12,883.85 and a victim surcharge of £93. Following the incident, the council has said that the business has now put extra controls in place as well as training for staff to prevent a similar incident happening again.

The premises was taken over in April 2023 by a different company and is no longer run by PEL. Officers from the Coventry City Council Food and Safety team, who were behind the investigation, said they found a number of failings at the business.

These were in relation to their responsibilities to ensure people not in their employment were not exposed to risks to their health and safety. Team members said that had the business put suitable and sufficient control measures in place, the accident would not have occurred.

In court, PEL pleaded guilty to the failure to conduct its undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, that people not in their employment - such as customers - were not exposed to risks to their health or safety. Mr Akhtar, as company director pleaded guilty as the accident took place due to inadequate attention given to health and safety by him, as he ran the enterprise.

Davina Blackburn, strategic lead for regulation at the council, said: "This case highlights the importance of businesses taking health and safety seriously, and how simple control measures can have a big impact on keeping both staff and customers safe.

“It is important that businesses keep health and safety as a priority and seek further help to ensure they are meeting all legal requirements if necessary. In particular, pubs have a duty to ensure that their customers are not exposed to risk whilst using their establishments.”

Cllr Abdul Khan, deputy council leader, added: “Health and Safety offences are serious, and the courts have sent out a strong message that keeping people safe is vitally important. People who have health and safety concerns should report them."

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