Page last updated at 17:34 GMT, Friday, 7 May 2010 18:34 UK

Burns payout to Norfolk victim could cut jail time

Michael Billings
Michael Billings was jailed for 30 months at Norwich Crown Court

A Suffolk landlord whose health and safety breaches left a Norfolk woman with severe burns, could have his jail term cut if he pays her compensation.

At Norwich Crown Court Michael Billings from Barsham, near Beccles, admitted 14 breaches of health and fire safety law.

Layla Skalli, 20, suffered 80% burns when fire tore through houses in Magdalen Street, Norwich in April 2009.

Judge Paul Downes said Billings' 30 months jail term could be cut if he paid £20,000 compensation to Ms Skalli.

The court heard there were no smoke detectors or fire extinguishers at the bedsits, and the window in Ms Skalli's room only opened four inches.

She had almost no chance of escaping and the heat was so intense her hair melted into the carpet, the court was told.

Rewarded passer-by

Ms Skalli spent three and-a-half months in hospital.

Billings, 55, admitted nine breaches of fire safety orders and five health and safety offences.

Sentencing, Judge Downes ordered him to pay £20,000 towards costs and said he would review the sentence if Billings "showed a gesture of remorse" by paying Ms Skalli £20,000.

He said it would not be right for the court to make a compensation order.

Judge Downes rewarded passer-by Dominic Dale £400 from the public purse for raising the alarm and commended firefighters who saved the occupants.

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