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Bogus gas fitter prosecuted for illegal inspections

A bogus gas fitter and the company he owns have been prosecuted for carrying out illegal inspections on mobile catering units in Suffolk.

Antony George Hewitt, trading as Hewitt Plumbing Solutions Ltd, unlawfully issued gas safety records under the names of legitimate Gas Safe registered installers on two separate occasions in July 2010 and July 2011.

Lowestoft Magistrates’ Court heard today (19 July) that on each occasion he signed off Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) installations as being safe for use, and in doing so knowingly misled his customers and compromised their safety.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) revealed that Mr Hewitt was registered with CORGI, now the Gas Safe Register, from 8 August 2003 until May 2006, but his registration was then withdrawn because he failed to demonstrate the required competency.

Mr Hewitt’s first bogus inspection was at a catering unit in Leiston, more than four years after his official registration had lapsed. The second was at a different mobile unit near Bungay a year later.

Antony George Hewitt, of Upper Avenue, Halesworth, pleaded guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 for each inspection – six breaches in total. He was fined a total of £12,000.

Hewitt Plumbing Solutions Ltd, of the same address, pleaded guilty to the same six breaches and was fined £12,000. Total costs for both defendants were of £2,654.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Martin Kneebone said: “This is a shocking case. Not only did Antony George Hewitt knowingly deceive his customers for financial gain, he compromised their safety in doing so.

“I cannot emphasise enough that all gas work should only be carried out by Gas Safe registered engineers, who have the required training, qualifications and up-to-date competence. HSE will take robust action against anyone who flouts the regulations.”

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added: “Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries an ID card which not only confirms they are who they say they are but also gives details on the kind of appliances they are qualified to work on.”