Builder sentenced for unsafe work after death of couple

A self-employed builder has been fined £75,000 and ordered to undertake community service after work he carried out on an elderly couple’s home resulted in their death from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Mohammed Jamil had been contracted to carry out work on the garage roof at the home of husband and wife Donald and Rosetta O’Sullivan on Matlock Road, Leyton, between the 14 February and the 31 March 2009.

The Old Bailey heard today (20 July) that Mr Jamil was paid to raise the roof of the garage, but did not take into account the effect this would have on the safety of the gas appliances within the property.

An investigation by the Health and Safety (HSE) found that in raising the roof, Mr Jamil enclosed the flue of a boiler, leaving it in a dangerous and unsafe condition. As a result, Mr O’Sullivan, 74, and Mrs O’Sullivan, 71, suffered carbon monoxide poisoning and were found dead at their home on the 21 April 2009.

Had the flue not been enclosed, then the deaths could have been avoided.

Mohammed Jamil, of Grove Green Road, Leyton, pleaded guilty of breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998 for his failings in relation to the deaths. In addition to the £75,000 fine, he was ordered to pay £25,452 in costs and handed a 12 month community order requiring him to undertake 150 hours of community service.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Kevin Smith said:

“This was a tragic incident that resulted in the unnecessary deaths of a retired couple in their own home as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Today’s prosecution graphically illustrates the dangers of builders carrying out work without considering the effects on gas appliances. The builder failed to comply with the standards and regulations relating to gas fittings, which resulted in work that left flues in a dangerous condition, and allowed a colourless, odourless, silent killer to enter the property.”

Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“In the right hands gas is safe, but badly fitted and poorly serviced gas appliances can cause gas leaks, fires, explosions and carbon monoxide poisoning.

“Only use a Gas Safe registered engineer to carry out any work on your gas appliances, and remember that other types of work in your home may impact on the safe operation of those appliances.

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card that confirms who they are and which also has details on the kind of work they are qualified to carry out. Always ask to see the ID card and remember you can call us free on 0800 408 5500 to check the details.”

For further information about gas safety visit the website. To find or check a Gas Safe Registered engineer in your area call 0800 408 5500 or go to link to external website.