Successful environmental health prosecution by council

Horsham District Council secured a successful environmental health prosecution at Horsham Magistrates’ Court on 12 October 2021.

Mr Labib Fanous, owner of Holmbush Farm, Slinfold, West Sussex has been prosecuted for his failure to comply with a Community Protection Notice (CPN) which was initially served on 12 May 2017.

The CPN required him to not to leave his property inadequately secured against trespassers, not to leave machinery and equipment unsecured at the property and not to leave materials unsecured which could endanger human health from around the grounds of his property.

The property at Holmbush Farm, a former chicken farm, has been vacant since 2002 without appropriate maintenance for at least 10 years and many of the buildings are now dilapidated and have suffered extensive vandalism on several occasions.

Mr Fanous had not undertaken any action to comply with the CPN and was required to attend Court for two matters; to answer a charge of failing to comply with the CPN contrary to Section 48 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 and to respond to the Council’s application for an order for works under Section 77 of the Building Act 1984.

Mr Fanous did not attend Court and evidence of his failure to comply with the CPN was presented by the Council’s Environmental Health team as a result of site visits to the property in question in October 2018 and July 2019.

The Court was satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that Mr Fanous failed to comply with the prohibited conduct, on conviction, the Court imposed a fine of £2,000 (the maximum fine for this type of offence is £2,500) which attracted a victim surcharge of £190. In addition, the Court awarded the Council’s costs of £2,039.08 in prosecuting Mr Fanous.

The Court also made a remedial order in respect of the prohibited conduct within the CPN which is to be undertaken within three months of the Court date to remove materials hazardous to human health, to secure the site against trespassers and to remove or secure any machinery or equipment out in the open or unsecured.

Additionally, Mr Fanous must also comply within three months to an order to carry out works to obviate the danger of two buildings next to a footpath which pose a risk to the public.

Welcoming the conviction, Horsham District Council Cabinet Member for Housing and Public Protection Cllr Tricia Youtan said:

Mr Fanous was given plenty of information about how to comply with the CPN over a protracted length of time in order to make his property safer to members of the public, but he made no attempt to improve conditions at the site.

He left our Environmental Health and Legal teams with no alternative but to take him to court and prosecute.

The Council has a zero tolerance approach to health and safety crime such as this and as this successful conviction proves, we will actively pursue offenders and prosecute them accordingly. It is simply not acceptable to endanger the health of others in this way.

Mr Fanous plans to appeal against his conviction.