Property manager goes on trial after toddlers die in blaze at rental home with no smoke alarms

A property manager has gone on trial after two children died in an “eminently avoidable” fire at a rental property.

Kamal Baines, a director of Prime Property Estates (Yorkshire), allegedly failed to install fire alarms despite being requested to “time and time again” by tenant Emma Taylor and her partner Jamie Casey.

The couple moved in to the property in May 2015 but, Miss Taylor told Leeds Crown Court, “He didn’t seem bothered. As long as he got the rent, he was happy for me to live like that with my kids”.

The court heard that Baines’ firm, which was dissolved last year, was responsible for managing around 140 rented homes in and around Huddersfield on behalf of private landlords.

Emma Taylor had asked about smoke alarms when they moved in, because her eldest child had started a fire at a previous property by putting a tea towel on a gas ring.

Prosecutor Allan Compton also said that one of the children who died was autistic. He said that “if ever there was an address to prioritise in ensuring alarms were present”, it would have been that one.

The fire at Emma Taylor’s home broke out in February 2016, caused by an electrical fault in the children’s bedroom.

Logan Taylor, three, and Jake Casey, two, both died.

The court heard that an investigation found that an upstairs alarm would have given Miss Taylor, who was downstairs at the time, a five-minute window to save them.

The court also heard that in October 2015, it became mandatory for smoke alarms to be fitted on the floors of all rental properties.

Emma Taylor made desperate attempts to get into the bedroom but could not get past the smoke and flames.

She, Jamie Casey and eldest son Finley all escaped from the fire. Neighbours who tried to rescue the two youngest children were also beaten back by smoke.

Baines, 51, of Huddersfield, denies two counts of manslaughter and one offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The trial resumes today.


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