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Sole trader fined for dodgy work

A sole trader was fined more than £25,000 earlier this month for carrying out faulty gas work without being Corgi-registered or adequately skilled.

The fine was handed out by Margate Magistrates’ Court after Tommy Smith pleaded guilty to two charges of breaching section 8(1) of the Gas Safety (Installations and Use) Regulations 1998.

Mr Smith also pleaded guilty to breaching two counts of the section 4A(1) of the Consumer Protection Act and one breach of Section 4 of the Business Names Act 1985. He was fined £13,998 for the gas safety offences and ordered to pay costs of £12,212.

The guilty plea was entered following a joint prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive and Kent County Council trading standards officers into dangerous work carried out on gas appliances in the homes of elderly homeowners in Kent.

The court heard that on two occasions in January 2007 Mr Smith undertook building work in Thanet in which he reduced the height of chimneys containing gas boiler flues. This gave rise to a risk of a build-up of carbon monoxide. Fortunately, no one was harmed.

Mike Walters, a HSE inspector from the Ashford, Kent, office, said: “This was a classic case of a rogue trader targeting the elderly and the vulnerable by cold calling them. One of Mr Smith’s victims was in his 70s.

“Mr Smith had never been Corgi-registered and had no skills to work with gas appliances or flues. He charged substantial amounts for his activities, which required costly remedial work. In one of the premises a new boiler had to be installed.

“The magistrate was very clear that, by putting profit before safety, Mr Smith’s actions could easily have resulted in multiple fatalities.”