A Suffolk plumber who put lives at risk by illegally working on domestic gas appliances has been sentenced to six months in prison.
Paul Jowett, 40, of Nelson Road, Pakefield, Lowestoft, admitted five breaches of gas and health and safety regulations when he appeared at Ipswich Crown Court today.
A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found Mr Jowett carried out work on gas fittings and appliances at a number of addresses in the Lowestoft area between May 2009 and October 2010 without being registered to do so, a legal requirement for carrying out such work.
Mr Jowett falsely told householders he was registered and used an invalid registration number on the safety certificates he issued.
One piece of work carried out by Mr Jowett at the Red Rose Indian restaurant in Lowestoft was judged by a qualified engineer to be so dangerous it represented “an immediate danger to life or property.” As a result of leaking gas, the restaurant was forced to close for two days.
In addition, the court heard that Mr Jowett continued to do work on gas appliances despite a written warning from HSE and being served with a Prohibition Notice on 22 April 2010.
Mr Jowett admitted three charges of breaching Regulation 3 (3) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998, one offence under Regulation 3 (1) of the same regulations, and a separate charge of breaching section 33 (1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.
He was sent to prison for six months.
HSE Inspector Edward Crick said: “It is against the law for anyone who is not registered with Gas Safe to carry out work on a gas appliance.”
“When unqualified workers try to bypass the law in this way they are not only putting themselves at risk of prosecution, and potentially a large fine or a spell in prison - they are also putting their customers’ lives at risk.”
“To make matters even worse, Mr Jowett was told to stop working on gas appliances, and took no notice.”
“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way.”
His Honour Judge Thompson said: “The seriousness of these offences is absolutely clear. The degree of risk caused by the activities was extremely high.”
Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register added: “If you’re employing an engineer to fit, fix or service gas appliances, you should always make sure that person is Gas Safe registered. If they say they are, don’t just take their word for it.”
“Check they are on the Gas Safe Register and check their ID card when they arrive at your door.”
“You shouldn’t take any risks, badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause fires, explosions, gas leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning.”