A Staffordshire fitter has been handed a suspended prison sentence for illegal gas work that potentially endangered lives.

Glenn Edkins, 43, trading as GPE Plumbing and Heating, carried out faulty gas work while installing a boiler at a home in Barton-under-Needwood between 8 and 22 November 2012. Mr Edkins was not Gas Safe registered as the law requires.

His illegal handiwork was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), which today (15 April) prosecuted Mr Edkins for breaching gas safety law.

Burton Magistrates’ Court heard that Mr Edkins left the boiler working and filled in the commissioning paperwork and boiler guarantee, quoting a false Gas Safe registration number.

Soon after, the householders smelled gas in the room where the boiler was and called Mr Edkins back. He identified the location of the leak and fixed it.

It was then the occupants decided to check Mr Edkins with Gas Safe Register and discovered he was not a registered engineer despite having carried out work for them in the past.

A local Gas Safe registered engineer visited, checked the installation and identified several serious defects.

Undersized copper pipe was used to supply gas to the boiler. This could have caused a potentially dangerous pressure drop if the boiler, fire and cooker hob were all in use at once. The fire and/or hob would have cut out, but as gas started flowing again as the other devices stopped, gas would escape into the room, potentially causing an explosion and putting the residents’ lives at risk.

Mr Edkins also used copper pipe at the incorrect width and left corroded pipe work in a wall, which could also have led to leaks and explosions.

Once HSE was informed, Mr Edkins was served with a Prohibition Notice preventing him from carrying out further gas work until he was registered.

Glenn Phillip Edkins of Holly Road, Barton-under-Needwood, was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay a victim compensation order of £1,275. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,264 having previously pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Lyn Spooner said:

“Glenn Edkins put lives and property in danger by flouting the laws that are designed to protect people from substandard and defective gas work carried out by unregistered fitters.

“HSE would encourage all homeowners and landlords to ensure they only use Gas Safe registered engineers and to check whether an engineer is registered before any work commences.

“Gas safety remains a priority for HSE and we will continue to bring illegal gas fitters to justice when we become aware of those who place lives in danger and show a blatant disregard for the law.”

Chief executive of Gas Safe Register, Russell Kramer, added:

“Illegal fitters put lives in danger – with one in five illegal gas jobs investigated by the Register found to be in an immediately dangerous state. You can check whether an individual is registered by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card or by calling Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk. ”

For advice on gas safety visit www.hse.gov.uk/gas orwww.gassaferegister.co.uk link to external website