A hospice where three residents were killed by a fire has been fined £250,000 for its “woefully inadequate” safety measures.
The blaze at St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards, East Sussex, led to the evacuation of 23 people.
But, Hove Crown Court heard, staff were ill-trained to deal with such an event, and the main fire exit was locked.
Judge Christine Henson, who slammed the hospice’s safety measures, also ordered it to pay £165,000 in costs.
In pre-sentence reports for the prosecution, Mr Sailesh Mehta said it was clear that staff had “no appropriate training for the evacuation of residents, holes in the ceilings allowed smoke to spread, locked exit doors could not be readily opened”.
He said the main fire exit was locked, and there was no proper evacuation training for staff.
“Nurses were in a state of panic – they tried to stop it [the fire] with towels to no avail.
“Some patients had to be put on a small filing cabinet to wheel them along as there were not enough wheelchairs available,” he said.
Managers at the hospice admitted two fire safety breaches, and its denial of 11 other indictments was accepted by the court.