A Leeds trader, who operates under several aliases, was jailed for carrying out illegal gas work and putting a family and two children at risk of serious injury, or even death.
Christopher Shaw, also known as Christopher Parker, 49, whose last known address was Field End Road, Halton, traded as SOS Express Plumbing.
A warrant was issued for his arrest after he failed to turn up last December at Bradford Magistrates’ Court charged with several gas safety offences.
The same court was told today the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) brought the prosecution after investigating unsafe gas work at a family home in Leeds undertaken between February and August 2013.
HSE told the court that Mr Shaw had never been a registered gas engineer, either with Gas Safe or the previous gas registration body Corgi. However he installed a boiler at the family house, deliberately breaching a prohibition notice issued by HSE that prevented him from undertaking any form of gas work. The boiler installation was later found to be unsafe, exposing the family – and possibly neighbours – to the potential risks of carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and explosion.
Magistrates heard Mr Shaw, who used one of his aliases, Christopher Parker, had suggested to the family they should buy a new boiler after theirs developed a fault, despite it being only three years’ old. The family had persistent problems with the boiler. Mr Shaw returned on several occasions to carry out repairs.
Eventually a registered gas engineer working for the boiler manufacturer examined the installation and listed a series of faults. The boiler was disconnected after classifying it as ‘at risk’. The householder tried to contact Mr Shaw several times, without any response, and Gas Safe Register was then alerted.
Magistrates were told HSE had served a Prohibition Notice on Mr Parker in 2011 following investigations by Corgi relating to several properties where he, trading as SOS Express Plumbing, had carried out unsafe work between March 2010 and May 2011.
These included properties managed by Leeds Housing Concern, a charity providing housing and support to vulnerable homeless people. The notice prohibited Mr Parker from carrying out further gas work until he was proven competent to do so.
Mr Shaw, was jailed after pleading guilty to breaches of the 3 (3) and 26 (1) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations and Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act. He was handed a six month custodial sentence for each of three charges to run concurrently.
After the hearing, investigating HSE inspector Andrea Jones said: “The breaches committed by Christopher Shaw were deliberate and the evidence collected indicates he has been carrying out similar fraudulent gas work for a number of years.
“He was not competent to carry out such work and he has never been registered with either Gas Safe or its predecessor, Corgi. Christopher Shaw was well aware he should not have been working on gas appliances or gas fittings.
“He put the lives of a family and other members of the public at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, fire and explosion by leaving a gas appliance with several faults, connected.
“Unregistered, incompetent gas installers put the public at risk. Any member of the public arranging work to be carried out on gas equipment should check the engineer is registered with the Gas Safe Register before work is started.”