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Cornish plumber prosecuted for illegal gas work

A plumber from Bude, Cornwall has been fined for carrying out illegal and unsafe gas work that potentially endangered lives.

Bodmin Magistrates’ Court heard that Matthew Congdon, 33, of Stibb, near Bude, a director of Coastal Plumbing and Heating, claimed to be on the Gas Safe Register when in fact his registration had expired.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that he had undertaken at least two complete boiler installations and a gas fire installation after his registration ended in May 2013.

Mr Congdon had claimed to still be a member and continued to use the Gas Safe Register name and logo on his work vehicle and in local press and online adverts.

He undertook a number of landlords’ gas safety checks for a managing agent in Bude, making them believe that he was a member of the Gas Safe Register, both verbally and on documents produced.

Magistrates were told that a Gas Safe inspector found 33 separate instances on the two boiler installations and gas fire installation where the workmanship was neither to the correct standards nor to the manufacturer’s specifications.

It included work on a gas inlet pipe that was classed “At Risk”.

HSE issued Mr Congdon with a Prohibition Notice on 9 September 2014 to stop him falsely claiming to be a Gas Safe Register member. He was given until 12 September 2014 to remove the logo from his van.

However, the van was seen still displaying the Gas Safe Register logo on 7 November.

Mr Congdon was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £418 after pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was also ordered to pay £700 compensation to a homeowner.

HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “Mr Congdon clearly put profit before safety and deliberately deceived people, leading them to believe that he was registered and competent to undertake gas work when in fact he wasn’t qualified.

“It is a legal requirement for landlords and managing agents to undertake annual gas safety checks at properties and it is a legal requirement for them to use a member of Gas Safe Register. Fortunately, no one was injured – but by claiming to be a member of Gas Safe Register, Mr Congdon risked the lives of homeowners and tenants and the reputation of the managing agent who trusted him.”

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