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The court heard the private members club was a fatal inferno waiting to happeniStock

A woman who ran a S&M swingers club, complete with torture chamber and dungeon, has been has been sentenced for putting customers' lives at risk.

Katherine High, owner of the Vivente private members club in Sunderland, pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety standards after officials ruled there was a "significant possibility" that a fire at the venue could result in loss of lives.

The club, which advertised having a basement dungeon complete with "stocks, sex-swing and plenty of implements to inflict pain", could hold as many as 60 people inside.

The venue has been closed since fire inspectors ruled it a health risk following a surprise inspection in April 2015. A previous hearing at Sunderland Magistrates' Court heard the building would be locked at all times with members of staff holding onto the keys.

The rooms were also full of candles, the walls were coated in flammable material and the escape routes were blocked by combustible objects. The building also did not have a working fire alarm, with exposed wiring clearly visible.

The rear entrance of the building was also locked and covered with a roller shutter, meaning it could not be used in the event of a fire.

Prosecutor David Claxton added the "physical restraints" in the building such as stocks would also pose a risk to life in event of a fire, reported The Chronicle.

After admitting five counts of breaching health and safety laws, High has now been sentenced to a six-month custodial sentence, suspended for 12 months.

Upon sentencing, Judge Timothy Gittins accepted the breaches were out of "naivety" rather than purposely hoping to harm her customers.

He added: "As a sole trader, you were running this premises as a private members sex club.

"That fact is irrelevant and that wouldn't have brought you before the courts as there is no suggestion that you were running it illicitly. The effects of fire within houses of multiple occupancy, not least because of the panic, are all too well known because of recent events.

"From the outset, it was apparent that this premise was unsafe and any fire there would have been catastrophic."