News: Jail for landlord and shop owner after death of tenant

Tue, 23 Feb 21

Two men - one a landlord, the other a shopkeeper- have been jailed after being found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter.

Mushtaq Ahmed of Oldham and Shafaq Khan of Rochdale were sentenced to nine and eight years in prison respectively.

The property in Greater Manchester was owned by Ahmed who bought the former pub and converted it into a ground floor shop with flats above. 

Against the advice of Rochdale council Ahmed began letting out five flats at the end of 2016; Joao Afonso was one tenant.

Khan owned the shop beneath the flats, known as Diamond Mini Market.

In September 2017, Afonso died in his flat as result of carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a petrol generator which had been installed, against regulations, in a storeroom directly beneath Alfonso’s flat.

Now a court has heard that the flats did not have a legitimate electricity supply, instead a direct to the mains connection had been installed. 

Ahmed, as the landlord, charged his tenants for electricity that was essentially being obtained for free. This illegal activity was detected in 2017 when an electrician was sent out after the company became suspicious.

The electrician immediately disconnected the electricity supply to the premises as the set up was so dangerous with exposed live areas and scorched wires it presented a fire and electrocution hazard.

Khan was contacted by the electrician with details as to the steps he would need to take in order to have the electricity supply switched back on. However, Khan disregarded this advice and instead made enquiries to install a petrol generator as a quicker and cheaper alternative to source the power needed for the shop.

After Khan contacted a local hire shop stating he needed a generator to power his lights and fridges in the shop, Khan went against the hire shop’s warning that the generator could only be used to power lights.

Ahmed then rigged up a double-ended plug from the generator, so that the electricity could be back-fed into the buildings supply, a highly dangerous manoeuvre as it makes the plug and all of the terminals within the building live on top of the existing hazards reported by the electrician.  

The court was told that after a customer warned both the defendants of the dangers of using a generator indoors, the pair moved the petrol generator from the shop into a poorly ventilated storeroom at the rear of building, which was directly underneath Afonso's flat. The generator was shut inside the storeroom behind a fire door.

Khan's defence claimed that he did not have the knowledge or skills to search the internet and research the dangers of using a petrol generator. However, photos taken from Khan's social media profile showed he did in fact know how to use the internet.

A Home Office post mortem on the tenant established that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning. The exhaust fumes from the petrol generator had contained carbon monoxide. These fumes had nowhere to go in the unventilated storeroom and had permeated through the ceiling into the flat directly above. The carbon monoxide had built up to a level that proved fatal.

Days after the death, both defendants paid £5,000 to have the electricity supply legitimately reconnected in the building. 

However, a visit by an electrical supply company in 2018, found further dangerous activity on the electricity meter and in addition, that a petrol generator was again in use in the same storeroom which had been underneath Afonso's flat.


Detective Constable Dan Daly of Greater Manchester Police says: “The fact that Ahmed and Khan paid for the electricity supply to be legitimately reconnected to the building days after Joao's death, demonstrates their greed and desire to find the cheapest solution rather than the safety of their tenants, employees and general public. 

“Had they have paid this debt instead of getting a generator, Joao Afonso's death would have been prevented.

"Neither Ahmed or Khan considered any alternative options before the installation of the petrol generator. If they had, Joao would still be alive. Instead, their first priority was making sure the shop remained open, fridges remained on and stock not destroyed. There were a number of steps throughout this tragic affair which if the defendants had not acted through greed and gross negligence could have prevented Joao Afonso's death.”

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