Plumber prosecuted for endangering tenants’ lives

hseA County Durham plumber has been sentenced for putting the lives of tenants at risk after deceiving landlords by claiming he was Gas Safe registered.

Keith Downie 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 them to his activities and Mr Downie was prosecuted at Darlington Magistrates’ Court.

The court was told that all landlords have a legal duty to ensure safety checks are carried out on gas appliances within their properties to protect their tenants, and that the work must be done by a Gas Safe engineer.

The HSE’s investigation confirmed Mr Downie had provided the landlords with gas safety records for three separate properties in the town. The documents stated that the safety checks had been carried out, but they proved to be fraudulent.

Mr Downie had told the landlords he was Gas Safe registered, and in two instances he even claimed to be the engineer that had carried out the previous year’s checks. However, the court heard Mr Downie had never been Gas Safe registered and was not competent to carry out the work.

Mr Downie was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to six breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 – three each of Section 3(2) and Section 33(1)(m).

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.”