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A dominatrix who chained and whipped men in an S&M “dungeon” on an industrial estate has been convicted of putting her clients in danger... by locking the fire door.
Lorraine White, 41, gagged and handcuffed her clients, abused them and forced them to dress as women.
Her operation was discovered when firemen were called to a blaze in her basement premises, the Medusa Club, but could not get in.
When they finally managed to enter, they were stunned to discover a sex dungeon kitted out with whips, chains, gags, masks, handcuffs and manacles.
White had also furnished the club in an industrial unit in Stockport, Cheshire, with purpose-built beds and chairs equipped with restraints.
Fire investigators found several canisters of nitrous oxide - laughing gas - which White’s clients used to get high.
There was only one manually operated fire alarm and the only fire exit out of the building was permanently locked. When questioned by investigators after the fire in October 2012, White said she had not realised she was legally responsible for health and safety precautions.
Stockport magistrates fined her £5 000 after she admitted breaching fire regulations. The court heard that White earned £1 100 a month from flogging clients and humiliating them by making them wear women’s clothing and carry out domestic work.
Elizabeth Dudley-Jones, prosecuting, said: “She was asked what would happen if there was a fire when her clients were under the influence of the gas and restrained. She said she had not considered it.”
Dudley-Jones said White had described the activities in the club to officers, adding: “She said nothing was too severe. Slight bondage, possibly a mask or gag. It involved a lot of humiliation, doing domestic work and dressing up in women’s clothes.”
White, a former beautician from Salford, pleaded guilty to failing to carry out a proper risk assessment, install suitable fire alarms, maintain emergency exits and install emergency lighting.
As well as the fine, she was ordered to pay £3 000 costs.
Although the magistrates had no powers to close down White’s business, chairman of the bench Michael Johnson told her: “If you find a business where you can earn more, don’t hesitate.”
White spent £10 000 refurbishing her smoke-damaged dungeon and is believed to be back in business.
The dominatrix trade is legal in Britain as long as customers consent to their degrading treatment and no lasting injury is caused.
However, a person cannot legally consent to an act causing serious bodily harm, such as extreme sadomasochistic acts.
Peter Grogan, defending, said White was a businesswoman of good character and that her club now fully complied with fire investigators’ requirements.
Fire prevention chief Peter O’Reilly said: “No matter what business you have, you must take fire safety seriously.
“The defendant admitted that she didn’t know about the regulations and that she had done nothing to make the premises safe.”