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Firefighter landlord jailed for tenant arson deaths

A firefighter has been jailed after inadequate fire safety measures contributed to the deaths of five people at a rented property he owned.

Jay Liptrot, 43, from Prestatyn in Denbighshire, was sentenced to 15 months in prison at Caernarfon Crown Court on Friday.

He was originally on trial for manslaughter but the case was dropped after he pleaded guilty to a lesser indictment holding him accountable for the lack of adequate safety measures at the property.

Lee-Anna Shiers, 20, Liam Timbrell, 23, their son Charlie, Ms Shiers' nephew Bailey, four, and niece Skye, two, died in his flat in Prestatyn in 2012.

Melanie Smith was jailed for 30 years in 2013 for their murder after starting the fire in a row over Ms Shiers' pushchair, which was left in a shared hallway. Two months before the tragedy, Smith had threatened to start a fire and Liptrot had begun moves to evict her.

The court heard how Liptrot was one of the firefighters who "was at the forefront of brave efforts" to rescue the five from the flat after the blaze was started.

The prosecution said central to the case was a door which failed to provide a fire-barrier between the communal hallway and stairs leading to the maisonette.

Flames tore through thin wood and glass in the door and heat and smoke was funnelled upstairs 'like a chimney', the prosecution said.

The judge told Liptrot: "You didn't cause the fire. But the lack of a fire door meant the tenants didn't have 30 minutes protection from the spread of the fire which would have been long enough for the fire brigade to arrive and start the rescue."

Outside court detective sergeant Dewi Jones of North Wales police said: "Our overriding hope is that each and every landlord will learn from this tragic event and if not already in place they will take immediate steps to ensure properties are safe for the occupiers and comply fully with fire regulations to prevent any other totally avoidable deaths."

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