A St Albans cinema owner has been ordered to pay a total of £18,780 in fines after knowingly exposing people to large amounts of asbestos waste.

James Hannaway, owner of the Odyssey Cinema in St Albans Hertfordshire, has pleaded guilty to three charges relating to having asbestos on site.

Prosecutor at Stevenage Magistrates’ Court revealed that Mr Hannaway was aware of the presence of asbestos in 2009, whilst purchasing the cinema.

Mr Hannaway was found to have failed to approach the asbestos presence seriously, as well as failing to provide training to staff in regards to the asbestos.

The courts heard that in 2012 reports from Caswell Environmental Services, revealed a further detailed report of the presence of asbestos stating: “loose debris containing asbestos could be found in the boiler room, the auditorium and the foyer.”

Mr Hannaway was advised that the site should be closed until the asbestos was removed, however in September 2012 Mr Hannaway started work to refurbish the cinema.

In October 2012 Mr Hannaway’s was joined by family, friends as well as members of the public to help remove the waste.

District Judge Annabel Pilling told Mr Hannaway: “It’s clear that you’re not someone who undertook a large-scale industrial refurbishment on a whim. But you made a fundamental and potentially fatal error.

“There is evidence of your ignorance and naivety in the fact that you, your family and your friends were involved with the demolition work. You exposed all of them, therefore – yourself included – to the presence of asbestos. It was frighteningly negligent but I accept, not deliberate.”

Mr Hannaway was ordered to pay a fine totalling £11,660, statutory surcharge of £120 and £7,000 to contribute to the prosecution costs, totalling to £18,780.