BREAKING: Ex county councillor spared prison over fire safety flouts that led to tot being thrown from Preston flat window

Kashif Gohar and Fathima at their new home in Deepdale, the devastation caused by the fire in their old flats, and landlord Vali Patel, the county council's former head of children's services
Kashif Gohar and Fathima at their new home in Deepdale, the devastation caused by the fire in their old flats, and landlord Vali Patel, the county council's former head of children's services

A former politician-turned-property owner whose blatant fire safety flouts meant a toddler had to be thrown from a blazing flat has been spared an immediate jail term.

Vali Patel, 74, of Lower Bank Road, Fulwood, Preston, was also ordered to pay a £12,000 fine and costs of £6,455 within a month.

The ex county councillor, who used to head up education in the county as the cabinet member for schools at Lancashire County Council.

On April 9 a fire broke out in an electricity meter placed at the bottom of a communal stairway at Patel's property on Rutland Street in Fishwick, Preston - blocking the residents' only exit and entry to their accommodation.

Almost overcome by smoke, Patel's former tenant, Aisha Gohar, 32, was forced to to throw her daughter Fathima, two, from the first floor ledge of a flat to the waiting arms of her husband Kashif, 34, below as the blaze spread.

The family had rented one of three flats at the building, which also comprises of the Little Wonders children's nursery and a women's centre.

Preston Crown Court heard no fire risk assessment had taken place to address this - despite assurances by Patel to planning chiefs that there would be sufficient fire doors and adequate detectors,at the property.

Firefighters who tackled the blaze later found the fire alarms were not working, with no power was supplied to the system to alert the residents.

Patel admits failing to comply with fire regulations, placing a person at risk of death or serious injury, relating to fire doors, locks on emergency doors, providing emergency exit routes, and failing to ensure that the premises and facilities were subject to a suitable system of maintenance.

Judge Robert Altham sentenced him to 24 weeks suspended for 18 months.

After the case the youngster's dad, Kashif Gohar, said: " "I didn't want him to go prison as he's a nice person, but the sentence has to reflect that he has responsibilities.

"It's not a small thing he can just neglect to save a few pounds here and there, it's risking people's lives.

"I hope it sends out a message to other landlords to check smoke alarms as well as the tenants."

The taxi driver previously told the Post how he was working in the city centre when Aisha, struggling to breathe, made a horrifying phone call telling him she was trapped inside with their toddler.

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He raced home in seven minutes and was met by thick smoke pouring from their lounge window.

He desperately tried to climb the wall to the first floor flat to get to them but couldn't.

She threw Fathima to him, and was then helped from the flat herself by a neighbour who helped Kashif lean a work ladder on top of a van to reach her.

Firefighters arrived from Preston and Penwortham fire stations to deal with the blaze at 1.14am, and Electricity North West turned off the electricity to around 200 homes in the area.

Four other people were attended to by paramedics.

After Aisha and Fathima spent the night in hospital, the couple, who married four years ago, struggled to find somewhere to stay. Most of their possessions were destroyed by smoke, though they were able to salvage their passports.

Patel gave them £1,500 towards their possessions.

They now live in a different property in St Andrew's Road, Deepdale.