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Gas fitter sentenced for series of safety breaches

A North Wales man, who falsely claimed to be a registered gas engineer, has been sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment after dangerously installing a gas boiler at an address in Rhyl.

The Heath and Safety Executive (HSE) prosecuted Mr Lee Hampshire, trading as LH Heating and Plumbing, for carrying out gas work and falsely claiming to be registered with the industry registration scheme.

Chester Crown Court heard that, on 11 August 2009, Mr Hampshire made several errors when installing the boiler at the domestic property. One fault was classed as ‘immediately dangerous’, which led to the gas supply being disconnected.

Following installation the pressure gauge on the boiler developed a fault and Mr Hampshire recommended the householder contact the manufacturer directly.

An engineer was sent out to the property to assess the problem but noticed the flue for the boiler was not fitted with the appropriate screws, and there was a visible gap between the flue and the boiler, which should always be airtight.

At the time of fitting the boiler, Mr Hampshire falsely claimed to be a member of the official gas registration scheme, Gas Safe Register, by providing the householder with an expired registration number from CORGI, the previous official registration body.

The court heard HSE had previously served Mr Hampshire with a Prohibition Notice on 20 November 2008 for failing to register with the scheme, and for putting his customers at risk of serious personal injury.

HSE Inspector, Damian Corbett, said: “The fact that Mr Hampshire continued to carry out work with gas fittings, despite being issued with a Prohibition Notice around a year earlier, shows a blatant disregard for the law, codes of practice and the standards that regulate the domestic gas safety market.

“Even after this notice was issued, he failed to register with the approved gas safety scheme and continued to deceive his customers that he was an accredited member. He did not have the competencies required by law to carry out the work, and his actions could have put people’s lives at risk.”

Lee Hampshire, of 69 Marion Road, Prestatyn, Denbighshire pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) and Section 33(1) (g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, and four breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to eight months’ imprisonment.

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register said: “We work closely with the HSE to investigate unregistered gas fitters and welcome successful prosecutions such as this.

“Unregistered gas fitters can present a real risk, not only in terms of potentially leaving gas appliances in an unsafe condition which could cause carbon monoxide poisoning, fire, gas leaks or even potentially explosions, but also leaving people out of pocket if they have to have the work put right.

“All gas engineers have to be Gas Safe registered - it’s the law. We are urging everyone to take care and be gas safe, by only using registered engineers for any gas work. You can check if an engineer is registered by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk   or calling 0800 408 5500.