North Devon plumber fraudulently claimed to be registered gas fitter

7 November 2012

A North Devon plumber who fraudulently claimed to be a registered gas fitter has received a suspended prison sentence and tagging order preventing him from leaving his home after 8pm.

Ben Laverty failed to check gas appliances he had been asked to test and produced false certificates declaring them safe at four properties in Barnstaple, a court heard today (7 November 2012).

He appeared before Barnstaple Magistrates charged with two breaches of safety law after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated his fraudulent activity.

Magistrates were told that Laverty was asked to carry out routine gas appliance tests at four properties by a managing agent working on behalf of landlords in the area.

Suspicions were raised about his work when he repeatedly failed to provide a certificate for one of the properties. The agent then checked with the Gas Safe Register and found he was not registered and had been using another member’s identification number on certificates he had previously issued.

An investigation by HSE found that, instead of properly testing the appliances, Laverty had only made a totally inadequate visual inspection of the appliances at three properties and did not visit a fourth.

Laverty, of Kipling Terrace, Westward Ho!, received a four-week prison sentence, suspended to 12 months, after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 3(7) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

He was also given a tagging ordered placing a curfew on him between 8pm and 7am for the next two months, and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,938.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Simon Jones said:

“Mr Laverty unnecessarily put lives at risk through his failure to carry out the work he was asked to do, and in leading the managing agent into believing that he was legitimately registered to undertake the gas safety checks.

“All gas engineers must be members of the Gas Safe Register by law so customers can be sure they are dealing with someone who is properly trained and qualified to do the job.

“Unregistered installers who carry out gas work could expose people to unacceptable risks that can prove fatal. Any business or sole trader who carries out work on any gas appliance without being properly trained and registered is breaking the law and HSE will not hesitate to prosecute.”

Paul Johnston, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which not only confirms who they are but also what kind of work they are qualified to undertake. We always encourage the public to ask to see the card and to check the details either by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by checking on link to external website.

“The public can also nominate work they have had undertaken for a free gas safety check.”

Further information on gas safety can be found on the HSE website