"Deathtrap" Basement Case Triggers Warning

"Seek advice from the fire service if you are organising an event," says Guy Williams

The recent conviction of a man who flouted fire safety and licensing laws and staged an illegal rave in a “deathtrap” basement should send a clear message to anyone thinking of organizing an event: “seek advice first.”

Rave organizer, Crispin Wrigley, was handed suspended jail sentences totaling 18 months by a judge at Shrewsbury Crown Court last week. At an earlier hearing Wrigley, 39, of Cabin Lane, Oswestry, pleaded guilty to 16 offences relating to fire safety regulations and a single offence of perverting the course of justice. He also pleaded guilty to two offences relating to breaches of licensing law.

Between 200 and 300 people were said to have attended the illegal rave in a basement beneath Rednal Skatepark near Oswestry.

“This was a case that shocked some of our most seasoned and experienced fire safety officers. What they found in the basement can only be described as a deathtrap, one that could have led to the loss of many lives should there have been a fire,” said Guy Williams, Group Manager of Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service’s prevention and protection team.

“It was such an extreme case that Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service felt it had no choice but to prosecute through the courts, a step we only take as a last resort. We much prefer to work with businesses and individuals to identify and remedy fire safety issues before they become problems.

“The message to anyone who is thinking of organizing an event is clear: get advice from the fire service. SFRS runs free business fire safety seminars across Shropshire that are aimed at helping people understand their fire safety responsibilities,” Guy Williams added.

 It’s a message echoed by Shropshire Council’s regulatory services operations manager, Karen Collier, who said: “This case should be seen as a clear warning to anyone who is planning an event. Seek advice from Shropshire Council.

“If you aren't sure if your event requires a licence or don’t know if the venue you are booking holds the necessary permission, then please contact us. We encourage members of the public to report any illegal activity to us and we use that information to help us target and prioritise our enforcement activities.”

The fire service has described the Wrigley case as “one of the worst it has ever dealt with.”

Guy Williams added: “This was a long and complex investigation and the successful prosecution is a tribute to the professionalism of the officers in our Protection team who worked tirelessly to put this difficult case together.”

25th October, 2016