Illegal gas fitter risked lives in Darlington

A Darlington man has been given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work after he put lives at risk by illegally carrying out gas work at three homes in the town despite specific warnings not to do so.

Christopher James Chapman was today (23 January) prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after he ignored warnings from both HSE and Gas Safe Register and continued to carry out unsafe work with gas fittings.

Teesside Crown Court heard how Mr Chapman had never been registered to carry out work on gas appliances and that in 2004 he was identified as not able to demonstrate the competence expected of a registered engineer.

A HSE investigation was launched after Gas Safe Register reported that Mr Chapman had carried out repairs to a central heating boiler and installed a gas fire at a property in Peterhouse Close, Darlington, between June and October 2012.

The boiler had to be disconnected by Gas Safe and was classed as ‘immediately dangerous’. The fire also had to be turned off as it was identified that it could also be dangerous and potentially life-threatening in the future.

HSE found Mr Chapman had also illegally carried out two gas safety checks on appliances and installed a boiler at a house in Grey Street between March 2005 and August 2008, and carried out four gas safety checks at a house in Montrose Street between March 2005 and August 2008, with a fifth carried out on 3 February 2011.

Christopher James Chapman, 63, of Newlands Road, Darlington pleaded guilty to ten offences relating to the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998. He was given a three month prison sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 costs.

After the hearing, HSE Inspector Jonathan Wills said:

“Death or serious injury was a foreseeable consequence from the highly unsafe work carried out illegally by Mr Chapman on gas appliances.

“He could not demonstrate that he was competent to carry out work on gas appliances and he was not a Gas Safe registered engineer.

“Despite being warned in the past by both HSE and Gas Safe Register to cease carrying out such work, he continued to do so with considerable potential for harm to the public.”

Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, commented:

“A quarter of a million illegal gas jobs are carried out every year by people who don’t have the skills or the qualifications to work safely with gas. One in five of the illegal gas jobs we investigate are found to be immediately dangerous, as was the case in this instance.

“This means that the work could lead to a gas leak, fire, explosion or carbon monoxide poisoning. It is therefore vital that people always make sure they only use a registered gas engineer.

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas work they are qualified to do. You can check if your engineer is legal and safe by asking for the card and if you have any concerns, contact us by calling 0800 408 5500 or visit our website link to external website.”