A shopkeeper in Wrexham who admitted storing more than four times the legal amount of fireworks in his town centre shop has been placed on a suspended prison sentence.
District judge Gwyn Jones told Paul Johnson he had been guilty of a flagrant disregard of his responsibilities and the number of people who could have been put at risk was substantial.
Johnson, 55, had pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to six charges relating to the illegal and unsafe storage of the fireworks over a period around Bonfire Night last year.
He received a 28 day prison sentence, suspended for 12 months and was ordered to pay £1,549 costs and a £115 surcharge.
The judge told Flintshire Magistrates Court that bearing in mind the number of people who could have been exposed to risk, immediate custody was justified.
His business sold beds and fireworks had been placed on beds which “posed a major risk of harm” to employees, members of the public and occupants of adjoining buildings.
The fact that he had seriously over stocked the permitted amount of fireworks also posed a major risk.
“This was a wholesale failure to recognise your health and safety obligations,” the judge told the Mold court.
Johnson, who had no previous convictions, admitted two charges of contravening health and safety regulations along with two of failing to discharge general health, safety and welfare duty to an employee and two of being a self-employed person failing to discharge general health and safety duty to persons other than employees.
Aled Rowlands, prosecuting, said a routine visit from trading standard officers to Goldilocks Cottage on Henblas Street in 2015 raised concerns about how Johnson was storing the fireworks in a shop which usually sold beds and furniture.
Officers found there were no fire extinguishers on the premises and no risk assessment had been carried out.
Johnson was advised of the requirements.
Another visit on October 27, 2016, found fireworks were being stored loosely on top of cabinets and a further visit on November 3, 2016, found that recommendations had been “completely ignored” with fireworks kept loosely around the shop and cabinets left unlocked.
On November 4, 2016, fireworks were still being stored loosely and they were subsequently seized.
Johnson blamed staff for the way the fireworks were kept.
They had received no training in how to store or handle them and that no risk assessments had been carried out.
Mr Rowlands said live fireworks had been displayed loosely in the shop instead of being in cabinets.
Johnson, of Whitchurch Road, Bangor-on-Dee, had applied for an explosive storage licence in 2015 which allowed for 15kg of fireworks to be kept on the premises but an invoice showed that at one point 79kg of fireworks were present in the shop.
He had since surrendered his explosives storage licence.
Ceri Lewis, defending, said her client was suffering from early onset dementia and health conditions meant he had reduced his working hours. His daughter was currently acting as his carer.
He had believed that if he surrendered the licence then “that would be it” and he would receive a caution.
Johnson was shocked to be summonsed to court, He accepted his responsibility. He had sold fireworks for more than 20 years without incident.
The court was told the business was currently running at a loss and it was clear Johnson had limited means.
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