A cafe owner has been fined after inspectors found people smoking shisha in his basement.

Keyvanfari Nima, 38, of Ace Cafe in Richmond Road, Kingston, was prosecuted by Kingston Council after a spot check on his shop prompted health and safety concerns.

Council inspectors raised fears over the fire hazard caused from the lit charcoal, lack of escape routes from the basement and the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning due to poor ventilation.

Mr Nima pleaded guilty to the offence of failing to discharge his duty to manage a smoke-free premises and was sentenced to a fine of £400 at Richmond Magistrates Court on Tuesday, April 10.

He was also ordered to pay the council’s full costs of £865 and a victim surcharge of £15, making his total fine £1,280.

But speaking after the case Mr Nima said the basement was not part of his cafe and the people there were friends rather than customers.

He said: "That’s my private area, it’s not part of the shop. The people in there were not customers they were my friends. Why do I need to answer to anyone about what I do in my private place."

Mr Nima said he would struggle to keep up with payments for the cafe because of the fines and said he felt he could at least have been given a warning first.

He said: "This part of Richmond Road is a dead end and instead of the council helping businesses during the credit crunch period they just penalise us in some way.

"It’s a waste of taxpayers’ money. Instead of just helping us run our business they spend time going to court.

"It’s all a bit sad, in these times we can hardly survive."