'BASIL FAWLTY' HELL HOTEL BOSS JAILED; Fire exits locked in 'death trap'.
A BOSS dubbed Basil Fawlty was jailed yesterday for turning his decrepit seaside hotel into a death trap.
The once grand building owned by Peter Metcalf had caved-in ceilings and fire exits nailed shut. By the front door fire exit were bottles of cooking gas and a large cylinder of petrol. There was no water supply in half the building, dodgy electrics and the roof was held up by a pole. The grimy kitchen at the New Kimberley Hotel in Blackpool was a health hazard.
Preston crown court was told that when inspectors called him, Metcalf, 51, threw tantrums worthy of Basil Fawlty, the famously bad-tempered TV hotelier played by John Cleese.
Prosecutor Joseph Hart said every fire exit had been nailed or chained shut, or blocked with beds. He added that the four remaining residents, who paid PS50 a week for rooms on the first floor, would have faced a series of death traps if they needed to flee the filthy and flammable building.
At one stage the hotel was such a wreck it was believed it was empty and derelict. In March last year fire brigade officials uncovered safety horrors including an electrical supply fitted with home-made fuses and 20 disabled smoke alarms.
Last month Metcalf, who hosted British National Party conferences at the hotel, was convicted of 15 fire and safety breaches.
Yesterday he was jailed for18 months - the highest-ever sentence for such offences. He was also fined PS5,243. Judge Anthony Russell QC told him he had showed "a callous disregard for safety".
Dave Russel, assistant chief fire officer for Lancashire Fire and Rescue, said: "The property presented a serious risk to life."
NO ESCAPE Doors locked and blocked, and, right, illegal fuses are a fire hazard
POLE CHANCER Roof is held up by a single rod
HEIGHT OF FOLLY Rotting ceiling near to collapse
TEMPER Metcalf and, right, Cleese in TV show