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Disgraced Norwich landlord forced to pay £100k after crippling a child

PUBLISHED: 18:00 29 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:14 02 July 2010

Discgraced landlord Michael Billings

Discgraced landlord Michael Billings

Ben Kendall

A disgraced Norwich landlord was forced to pay more than £100,000 in compensation after crippling a child for life, it has emerged today .

Prominent private landlord Michael Billings, who could face jail after admitting serious breaches in fire and health and safety regulations, made the pay out almost a decade after the incident in which Emma Green, then aged nine, suffered a series of injuries.

A disgraced Norwich landlord was forced to pay more than £100,000 in compensation after crippling a child for life, it has emerged today .

Prominent private landlord Michael Billings, who could face jail after admitting serious breaches in fire and health and safety regulations, made the pay out almost a decade after the incident in which Emma Green, then aged nine, suffered a series of injuries.

Her feet were badly hurt in an incident in which Billings' used a digger irresponsibly at one of his Norfolk properties.

Miss Green, now 21, decided to speak out after reading about Billings' conviction following a blaze at four terraced houses in Magdalen Street, Norwich, in which a young woman tenant suffered 80pc burns and was given just a 1pc chance of survival.

She said: “I don't know how this young lady and her family are dealing with this tragic incident but my heart goes out to her as I know how this man's negligence affected my life and how it affected my family. How many more people have to suffer because of this man's greed and negligence?”

The incident happened in 1998 when Miss Green was living in a caravan at Billings' home in Ashman's Hall, in Barsham near Beccles. But her claim against Billings was only resolved in 2007 after the lasting extent of her injuries became clear.

Billings had invited Miss Green and a friend to ride in the bucket of the digger. He did not know how to drive the vehicle and pressed the wrong button, crushing her foot.

“My memories aren't that clear but my feet were trapped until a workman rushed over and took control of the machine. I was in a huge amount of pain,” said Miss Green, who now lives in Portugal.

“I had to undergo a series of operations to repair my feet and even now I struggle to walk long distances and experience pain. The money he has had to pay me is very important as it will pay for any medical care I need in the future.

“I just want people to know what he is capable of. My parents just recall him being completely reckless and not caring about anyone else.”

Miss Green was represented by Christopher Moore, from Steeles Law in Diss.

Mr Moore said: “I believe it is in the public interest to inform any prospective and current tenants of the history of irresponsible behaviour of this man.”

He added that there may be other former or current tenants who may be able to pursue a personal injury claim against Billings.

Billings is one of Norfolk's biggest private landlords and is said to own more than 100 properties in the Norwich area. Earlier this month he admitted 14 offences of breaching safety and putting tenants at risk in a prosecution brought by Norfolk Fire Service and the Health and Safety Executive.

This is the second time that Billings has been prosecuted for health and safety breaches which put his tenants at risk.

In 1998 he was ordered to pay £6000 for flouting gas appliance guidelines. The Health and Safety Executive prosecuted Billings after finding flues, pipes, cookers and boilers in a serious state of disrepair at properties he owned at Rosebery Road and Unthank Road, in Norwich.

Billings will be sentenced in May and has been warned that he could be jailed.

t Are you a former or current tenant of Michael Billings? Contact crime correspondent Ben Kendall on 01603 772423 or ben.kendall@archant.co.uk

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