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Plumber in court over illegal gas work

A Milton Keynes plumber has been fined after putting householders at risk over many years after he repeatedly carried out gas fitting work while unqualified and unregistered.

Andrew Barnes, trading as APB Home Services, was found to have undertaken gas fitting work dating back to 2006.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that he deliberately and consistently pretended to be officially registered with Gas Safe and its predecessor, CORGI.

Mr Barnes, 52, of Furze Way, Wolverton, Milton Keynes, ignored three warning letters from HSE and continued to advertise himself as a competent, registered gas engineer and to undertake illegal work on gas fittings and appliances in homes in the Milton Keynes area.

Milton Keynes Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Barnes, a plumber for over 30 years, traded as APB Home Services Ltd and was the sole worker in his company. He had never been trained to work with gas and neither he nor his company had ever been on official gas safety registers.

Despite that, the CORGI and Gas Safe logos appeared on his paperwork and on his website, and he regularly issued landlord gas safety records for the work he had completed.

Mr Barnes was given a three year conditional discharge and ordered to pay costs of £600 after pleading guilty to two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. APB Home Services was fined £300 and ordered to pay costs of £525 for a single breach of the same Regulations.

After the case, HSE inspector Robert Meardon said: “This was not an isolated lapse but a prolonged and deliberate deception that could have put lives at risk across the Milton Keynes area.

“Mr Barnes was well aware of the risks but chose to ignore them – as he chose to ignore the specific warnings from HSE.

“People can die as a result of gas leaks. It is vital that only registered gas engineers, who are trained and competent, work on gas appliances and fittings. Registered engineers are on the Gas Safe Register.

“Unless you are on this Register, you should not undertake this work. If you are a landlord or a home owner, you need to make sure that you only use someone who is on the Register.”

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