Restaurant prosecuted for serious health and safety violations


Thursday, 16 May, 2024

Woking Borough Council has successfully prosecuted Okra Lounge Ltd, located at Station Approach in West Byfleet, for endangering the lives of residents. 

On Monday 29 April 2024, Mr Ilhan Coban, one of the directors of Okra Lounge Ltd, pleaded guilty for breaching health and safety legislation at Guildford Magistrates’ Court.

The incident occurred in the early hours of Friday 14 July 2023. The restaurant failed to clear the coals from a charcoal grill and turned off the kitchen’s ventilation system before closing. This resulted in high levels of carbon monoxide escaping from the premises into the residential flats located above.

This led to two residents being taken to hospital, where it was discovered that they had elevated levels of carbon monoxide in their blood. One resident was also treated by paramedics for carbon monoxide inhalation at the scene.

During the hearing, it was revealed that there had been a history of complaints about smoke stemming from the restaurant, entering the flats above. In response, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service installed a carbon monoxide detector a month before the incident took place. If not for this, the case could have been much more serious, potentially resulting in fatalities. 

At the hearing, the Magistrates imposed a fine of £15,000 reduced to £10,000 for entering an early guilty plea. Okra Lounge Ltd were also ordered to pay a Victim Surcharge of £2,000 and the council’s full court costs of £837.50, bringing the total fine to £12,837.50.

In response to the fine, Cllr Liam Lyons, Woking Borough Council’s Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regulation, said: “This successful prosecution shows how seriously, we at the council, take the health and safety of our residents.

“Business owners need to take responsibility for their actions and operations, making sure that the safety of both their employees and the wider public is preserved.

“We hope that the large fine Okra Lounge Ltd was ordered to pay will serve as an incentive for other businesses to keep on top of their operations, and to make sure due diligence is paid to health and safety regulations.”

Find out more information about health and safety regulation