Gas worker jailed for leaving pensioner's home at risk

Published:  13 August, 2013

A builder has been jailed for 12 months for illegally carrying out sub-standard gas work at a pensioner's home in Bedfordshire.

Luton Crown Court heard last week (9 August) that between 21 January and 30 June 2010, Patrick Regan of Loudwater, High Wycombe, carried out internal building work - including gas work and other building works affecting gas appliances - at a 65-year-old woman’s house in Dunstable, despite not being registered with Gas Safe.

During the building work, he removed a chimney breast in the lounge but left the still connected and unstable gas fire flue liner lying across the floor and routed into a floor void. The gas meter had also been disturbed when the wall it was fixed to was removed, which caused a gas leak, and gas fitting work in the kitchen included the installation of a five-metre length of gas supply pipework running directly across a doorway with only one clip supporting it.

The house was left with appliances in an ‘immediately dangerous’ condition, but they weren’t disconnected until 5 October (2010) when a Gas Safe engineer visited the property. This was more than three months after Regan had finished.

The householder, who does not wish to be named, was left with an estimated repair bill for heating and plumbing in the region of £5,000.

Regan was sentenced to 12 months in prison after being found guilty of single breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was also ordered to pay £2,500 in costs.

After the hearing, Health & Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Stephen Manley said: "Patrick Regan’s handiwork left a lot to be desired. He operated illegally and left a vulnerable pensioner at risk.

"This case highlights the need for householders to exercise caution when they select people to work in their home. They should always check credentials and obtain references for similar works done, and never feel awkward about asking questions. You should only use a Gas Safe registered engineer for gas fitting works.

"Even small-scale works such as extensions, car ports and conservatories must be planned properly to identify where work may affect gas fittings, so that appropriate controls can be incorporated."

Russell Kramer, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added: "Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand. You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk.