Landlord prosecuted over CO poisoning

Published:  21 August, 2012

A landlord received a suspended jail sentence for endangering lives after a mother, her partner and her eight-year-old daughter suffered carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty boiler at their flat in Lewisham.

Gail Calvert, her daughter and partner Stephen Clayden were hospitalised after they inhaled large quantities of the gas in a ground floor property on 20 November 2011. They were saved from further harm after a carbon monoxide alarm sounded in a flat above.

The landlord, David Francis MacDonald, from Camberwell Green, had earlier pleaded guilty to two separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 for ignoring his responsibilities. He was sentenced at Westminster Magistrates' Court to six months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, ordered to carry out 200 hours' community service and to pay £8,211 in costs.

The source of the leak was a faulty gas boiler in their flat, which they rented from David MacDonald. The spread of the carbon monoxide led to the flats being evacuated by London Fire Brigade and the gas supply to the flats being disconnected by Southern Gas Networks.

The landlord had a legal duty of care to maintain the appliance and ensure it was checked and certified at least once a year by a Gas Safe registered engineer. However, an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive revealed evidence of poor maintenance and demonstrated the boiler was emitting high levels of carbon monoxide.

HSE Inspector Kevin Shorten said: "Carbon monoxide can kill quickly without warning and approximately 20 people die each year as a result of poisoning from gas appliances and flues that haven't been properly installed, maintained or that are poorly ventilated. Had a neighbour's carbon monoxide alarm not sounded, the family could well be amongst that number.

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