Prison and hefty fines for backpackers landlord

FORMER landlord Spiros Pandelakis has been sentenced to prison and fined $48,000 for breaches of fire-safety regulations at two backpacker residences.

Since his first offence in 2009, Pandelakis and his company have been fined about $1.1 million for running budget accommodation properties in Caboolture that did not comply with fire safety regulations.

He was the subject of a Today Tonight story last year, as a landlord who lured students to his working hostels with promises of jobs that did not exist, and the subject of Facebook page Shut Down Doc Spiros.

Pandelakis closed his eyes as he was sentenced yesterday to two months in prison and a four-month suspended sentence, the two terms to be served concurrently.

The company, of which Pandelakis was chief executive officer, was also fined $415,000 at Caboolture Magistrates Court.

Representing himself, Pandelakis told the court he suffered from medical problems.

These needed to be taken into consideration by the court, he said.

"I'm on a lot of medication and don't know how I would go in prison," he said.

"I'm on a pension and can't afford any large fines.

"My health precludes me from any long stays in prison."

Prosecutor Michael Nicholson said the company and individual had displayed a "blatant disregard for the law".

This left the only option to be "a short period of actual custody".

"The company and individual have previous convictions and have shown a total disregard for fire safety," he said.

"Given these breaches, this prisoner seems to have a total disregard for the law."

Pandelakis occasionally coughed during the trial and appeared tired.

He closed his eyes as the magistrate Peter Haystead read out the list of convictions and sentences.

QFRS Commissioner Lee Johnson said the penalty was a reminder to all illegal budget accommodation operators that they would be caught.

He highlighted the tragic Childers Backpackers Hostel fire as an example of what could go wrong.