Gas fitter sentenced after illegally removing boiler

A Suffolk-based self-employed builder has been given a prison sentence and community service after leaving a householder in danger when he left a gas supply pipe open and uncapped after illegally removing a boiler as part of a central heating installation project.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident on 11 October 2012 found that Keith Vickerstaff was not Gas Safe registered and was not qualified to carry out any works involving the removal or installation of gas appliances.

It was discovered that Mr Vickerstaff had been reported to Gas Safe’s predecessor, CORGI, in 2007 for a similar offence of carrying out unregistered gas work.

Ipswich Crown Court heard today (30 September) that Mr Vickerstaff removed a gas boiler and left an open ended, uncapped, gas supply pipe. It was later classed as ‘immediately dangerous’ by a Gas Safe investigator, who checked the work after Mr Vickerstaff abandoned the job, despite taking a considerable deposit for installing full central heating.

Keith Vickerstaff, 49, of Wainwright Way, Kesgrave, Ipswich was given a six months prison sentence suspended for 18 months and 180 hours of unpaid community work after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

After the case, HSE Inspector Anthony Brookes, said:

“It is sheer luck that nobody was injured as a result of Mr Vickerstaff’s shoddy and illegal work. His actions endangered householders and their neighbours and put them at serious risk of injury and even potentially death.

“He took money for work that he was not competent to do and left the occupants of the house thousands of pounds out of pocket and with an extremely dangerous gas supply that could have caused a fire or explosion at any time.”

Russell Kramer chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added:

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas appliances they are qualified to work on.

“We always encourage the public to ask for and check the card and if they have any concerns about the safety of work carried out in their home, to speak to us. Every year we investigate thousands of reports of illegal gas work. Call us on 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at link to external website.”

Further information about gas safety can be found online