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Budget accommodation operator jailed for non-compliance

10/25/2013 4:45:24 PM

The Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) is putting illegal budget accommodation operators on notice, after a Caboolture businessman was sentenced to two terms of imprisonment today.

Spiros Pandelakis was fined $48,000, while his business Academic Systems Pty Ltd was also fined $415,000 in the Caboolture Magistrates Court this afternoon. Mr Pandelakis was sentenced to two months imprisonment and a four-month suspended sentence was invoked. The two terms are to be served concurrently.

Since his first offence in 2009, Mr Pandelakis and his company have been fined approximately $1.1 million. QFRS Commissioner Lee Johnson said the penalty was a reminder to all illegal budget accommodation operators that they would be caught.

“The QFRS will pursue those people who have a blatant disregard for fire safety legislation and, ultimately, other people’s lives,” Mr Johnson said.

“The Magistrate sentenced Mr Pandelakis in relation to a carryover four-month suspended sentence, as well as recent convictions on 18 other charges all relating to continuing to provide illegal budget accommodation.

“On 6 March, 2013 the Magistrate sentenced Mr Pandelakis in regard to two charges of failing to comply with Commissioner’s requisitions, which had been issued against four premises where illegal budget accommodation facilities were being operated. The Magistrate imposed fines totalling $180,000 and four months imprisonment, wholly suspended for two years.

“Prior to this, on 18 February 2013, Academic Systems Pty Ltd was fined more than $480,000 for the offences detected at three premises, which were found to be operating as illegal budget accommodation buildings.”

Mr Johnson said budget accommodation was identified generally as a boarding house, hostel or share house for six or more unrelated people who have access to shared bathroom or sanitary facilities.

“These are people’s lives which are at serious risk and there is no excuse for those who do not take the appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of not only Queenslanders but our interstate and international visitors,” he said.

“While Mr Pandelakis and his company have been serial offenders, they are not alone. The QFRS continues to see the trend towards people using residential properties in suburban streets, rather than traditional style boarding houses, as budget accommodation to maintain anonymity and avoid detection and prosecution.

“This is life-risking behaviour and we urge any cases to be reported to the QFRS or local council immediately.”

People can contact their local QFRS office to report any building that they suspect may be illegally providing budget accommodation. A list of QFRS contacts is provided at
https://www.fire.qld.gov.au/buildingsafety/budget.asp

Between January 1 2007 to October 13 2013, the QFRS completed 3425 inspections at 1713 budget accommodation buildings across the State.

These inspections have resulted in the QFRS:

• Issuing 1028 requisitions by the Commissioner under s69 of the Fire and Rescue Service Act 1990 (the Act), to reduce occupancy numbers to 5 or below;
• Issuing 218 Notices by the Commissioner under s104G of the Act to upgrade existing fire safety;
• Issuing 200 Infringement Notices for fire safety breaches in Budget Accommodation Buildings; and
• Completing 92 successful prosecutions for Budget Accommodation Building offences.

Further detailed information as to what constitutes a budget accommodation building can be found at http://www.legislation.qld.gov.au/LEGISLTN/CURRENT/B/BuildA75.pdf .


Contact for media enquiries: DCS media unit on (07) 3635 3310.


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