Builder sentenced for 'illegal and incompetent' gas work

Published:  28 July, 2014

The senior partner of a building firm in Crawley has been sentenced after carrying out illegal and incompetent work on gas fittings and exposing a local family to the dangers of fire or explosion.

Sunil Vadher was one of two brothers running SR Brothers building firm, which had been hired to build an extension at the family’s home in Broadfield, Crawley. As part of the contract the brothers carried out gas work involving installing a new boiler and pipework for a gas cooker.

The couple, who have three children, had several problems with the boiler and decided to have the gas installations checked after SR Brothers had stopped their construction work at the property.

An inspection by Gas Safe Register, the professional body for registered gas engineers, found two defects classed as ‘immediate risk’, four ‘at risk’ and a further six that were found to be below current standards.

The findings were passed to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which prosecuted Mr Vadher for three breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and a breach of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 committed between July 2013 and February 2014.

Crawley Magistrates heard the Gas Safe investigator had isolated the family’s gas supply as some of the work carried out left it too risky to use. HSE issued a prohibition notice on both the brothers preventing either from carrying out any gas work until they were competent and Gas Safe-registered.

HSE told the court that although SR Brothers was a partnership, Sunil Vadher was effectively in charge.

Sunil Vadher of Marion Road, Furnace Green, Crawley, West Sussex, was fined a total of £1,000 and ordered to pay £870 in costs after admitting the four offences.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Stephen Green said: “Despite knowing that gas work can only be carried out by Gas Safe-registered engineers, Sunil Vadher chose to undertake the work himself to save money. In doing so, he exposed a couple and their three children – and anyone else in the immediate area – to a risk of fire and explosion. The family was also exposed to risks of asphyxiation and carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Sunil Vadher compounded the deception by providing the family with a boiler commissioning checklist, fraudulently using the details of a Gas Safe-registered installer, to intentionally mislead them into believing the work had been professionally signed-off.”

Illegal gas work puts lives at risk, with around one in five jobs investigated by the Gas Safe Register found to be immediately dangerous. Only Gas Safe registered engineers should be used to fit or fix gas appliances, whether in a domestic or commercial property. Every registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out.