Leicester Shisha cafe breached smoking laws
The owner of a city centre shisha cafe has been fined for breaking smoking laws.
Ahmed Kasmany (28), of Gwendolen Road, Leicester, had denied four charges of failing to stop a person smoking in a smoke-free premises at the Al Feena, in St George's Way.
But yesterday, magistrates found him guilty and ordered him to pay fines and costs totalling more than £3,000.
His barrister James Bide-Thomas told the court the verdict would have "a terminal" impact on his client's business.
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Council enforcement officers visited the shisha cafe, where customers smoke fruit flavoured tobacco, four times at the end of 2011.
The visits came seven months after a court had cleared Mr Kasmany and a partner of similar offences.
The court heard the cafe includes an outer terrace and an inner area, which were separated by security shutters which were always up during opening hours.
Nicki Agalamanyi, prosecuting for Leicester City Council, said officers from the authority had become concerned over the design and inclusion of the shutters.
She said they commissioned a report by architect Philip Dodd to see if the shisha cafe complied with the law, which states at least 50 per cent of the premises must be open to fresh air.
Mr Dodd said the venue did not comply as the shutters meant the inner area was totally enclosed and therefore smoking was prohibited.
However, Mr Dodd did tell the court if the shutters were removed then the building would comply with regulations.
Mr Kasmany said: "I did not think it included the shutters, as they could only be opened by staff and they were always retracted when we were open."
The court heard council enforcement officer Gurdeep Dosanjh visited the bar in November and December in 2011, and found people smoking in the inner area.
Mr Kasmany told the court that following council advice and securing planning permission for the shutters, he believed his business was legal.
He said following acquittal by Leicester magistrates in March 2011, he felt justified in allowing people to use the inner part of the building.
Magistrate Adrian Bradley said: "We found the prosecution expert Phil Dodd a credible witness. He said the smoking area was divided into two parts and that smoking was not allowed in the inner room because of the shutters."
Mr Bradley said he urged the owner of the cafe to meet council officers to see if there was a way of making the venue comply with the law.
Yesterday's hearing also saw Sameer Socranie (38), of Naseby Road, Northfields, Leicester, convicted of one count of failing to stop people from smoking in a smoke-free area.
Mr Socranie, who acted as a business consultant, was cleared of three other similar charges after he told the court he reduced his connection with the business when the council told him the premises did not comply with the law.
He admitted failing to tell the council who the owner of the bar was within the 15 day legal limit.
He was ordered to pay £2,465 in fines and costs.