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A Chinese eatery in Preston has closed down following the prosecution of its owner, Wen Qaing Cai.


Preston Magistrate's Court found Mr Wen guilty of four offences concerning health and safety legislation.


China House restaurant on Aqueduct Street was visited by health and safety inspectors in 2013. A number of problems were discovered, some of which could have proved lethal.


A cooking range that was in use was leaking gas, while the front of a water heater had been removed in the staff quarters, which could have led to carbon monoxide poisoning. Gas work had been conducted on the premises by someone who was not a member of the Gas Safe Register and access to the cellar had been refused.


In addition to the above offences, Mr Wen pleaded guilty to not looking out for the welfare of employees and customers. According to the fire safety manager of Lancashire Fire and Rescue Services, Brad Walker, a blaze at the premises would have resulted in the evacuation of hundreds of other businesses and homes in the area, and possibly even the West Coast mainline.


Jonathan Cruickshank, the senior environmental health officer at Preston City Council, said that only a timely intervention and the discovery of the gas leak had prevented a tragedy. Employers have a duty to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) where necessary and to take precautions to avoid accidents in the workplace. Mr Wen has received a six-month prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, a fine of £2,000, costs of £2,699.87 and an £80 victim surcharge. He will also have to undertake 200 hours of voluntary work.

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