A County Durham plumber has been sentenced to prison for putting the lives of tenants at risk, after deceiving landlords by claiming he was Gas Safe-registered.
Keith Downie, 51, of The Firs, Darlington, supplied gas safety records to the landlords of at least three properties in the Darlington area between February and May 2012.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation after a member of the public alerted it to his activities, and Mr Downie was prosecuted on 9 December at Darlington Magistrates’ Court.
The court was told that all landlords had a legal duty to ensure safety checks were carried out on gas appliances within their properties to protect tenants, and that the work must be done by an engineer on the Gas Safe Register.
The HSE’s investigation confirmed Mr Downie had provided the landlords with gas safety records for three separate properties in the town, which stated that the safety checks had been carried out. However, they proved to be fraudulent.
Mr Downie had told the landlords he was Gas Safe-registered, and in two instances claimed to be the engineer that had carried out the previous year’s checks. However, the court heard Mr Downie had never been on the Gas Safe Register and was not competent to carry out the work.
Mr Downie was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison, suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work and to pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to six breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 – three each of s.3(2) and s.33(1)(m).
After the case, HSE inspector Jonathan Wills said: “Mr Downie displayed a deliberate and reckless approach to the law by putting the tenants of these three properties at risk with a view to profiting financially.
“Having deceived the landlords into thinking he was Gas Safe-registered, he then provided them with documents to show the appliances were safe even though he was not competent to carry out such checks.
“This case should act as a reminder that the HSE will prosecute those who flout the law in such a way, putting the lives of members of the public in danger.”