Plumber Jailed over Gas Fitting

Plumber Jailed over Gas Fitting 25871

Steven Colson, a plumber from Derbyshire, has been sent to prison for putting customers' lives at risk.

The man, also known under his previous name Steven Barkway, was prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for poor standards following the renovation of a bathroom in Chesterfield in 2010.

Carbon Monoxide

Mr Colson was employed by Neil and Nazia Tingay to update the plumbing of the room, but part of this involved decommissioning, moving and commissioning the boiler.

This may seem like a relatively simple job, but inexperienced engineers are prone to mistakes that could lead to a leakage of carbon monoxide, which would put lives at risk.

Mr Colson told the couple that he could do the job and would be able to get it done relatively quickly, even though he was not qualified to do so and was not on the Gas Safe register, which lists all tradesmen who are licensed to work on complex gasworks.

Derby Crown Court heard the plumber initially moved the boiler to the wrong part of the room and then had to move it for a second time.

British Gas

After spotting a number of mistakes, Mr and Mrs Tingay became suspicious and enlisted the help of British Gas, which sent an operator to check if the boiler had been installed properly.

The operative found six defects, three of which were classed as immediately dangerous and three of which were recorded as at risk or not to current standards, meaning that the couple were put at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. 

After being confronted with this information Mr Colson admitted he was not qualified to carry out the work.

Following this, the HSE was informed and launched a prosecution against the plumber.

Crown Court Hearing

Derby Crown Court heard that Mr Colson had connected the boiler with the wrong type of flue, failing to install an inner flue, which is needed to disperse fumes.

Additionally, the man terminated the flue at a louvered self-closing vent extractor, meaning it was impossible for flue products to exit the boiler properly.

According to the HSE, this could have led to a build-up of "potentially lethal carbon monoxide fumes".

For his part in the installation of the faulty boiler, which was immediately condemned by British Gas, Mr Colson was charged with breaching Regulations 3(1), 3(3), 26(1), 27(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. 

"Guilty"

Mr Colson pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two months in prison, before also being told to pay costs of £1,000.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Edward Walker said, "Mr Colson put his customers' lives at risk. If it wasn't for the fact their boiler was due to be serviced, these life-threatening errors may not have been detected until it was too late.

"These defects demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of gas safety. Working with gas appliances is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. Only qualified and registered engineers should attempt it. HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way."

By Francesca Witney