A man who falsely claimed he was a registered gas engineer has been sent to prison for two years for endangering people’s lives at two properties in Lancashire, including a baby boy.
Stephen Jonathan from Accrington was prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) for committing a total of six offences after his work was labelled ‘immediately dangerous’.
Burnley Crown Court heard the 35-year-old’s actions had put residents at risk of being killed or seriously injured in a gas explosion or from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The court was told Jonathan falsely claimed he was a registered gas engineer when he installed a new boiler at a community nurse’s home on Willows Lane in Accrington on 22 October 2010. Geoff Street, a 52-year-old resident, said he regularly looked after his sister’s baby in his house, without knowing the boiler was operating dangerously.
An engineer was sent to repair the boiler after it was reported to the manufacturer as being faulty. He classified the installation as being ‘immediately dangerous’, and immediately disconnected it from the gas supply.
Jonathan’s work was reported to the Gas Safe Register, which holds the official list of legal gas engineers, and HSE, which carried out an investigation. It found that Jonathan had also installed central heating at a house on Avondale Road in Lancaster during November and December 2010. He had, again, claimed to be a registered gas engineer, and the installation of the boiler had again been classified ‘immediately dangerous’.
Jonathan admitted putting lives at risk and of carrying out gas work while falsely claiming to be a registered gas engineer. He was sentenced to two years in prison at Burnley Crown Court.
Street spent £1,700 on making the boiler safe at his house on Willows Lane in Accrington. He said: “It’s shocking that Stephen Jonathan didn’t have any consideration for my life or anyone else’s. I was looking after my sister’s baby in the house without knowing both our lives were being put in danger by the boiler he installed.
“He appeared quite professional when I first met him. But he refused to come back when I told him the boiler kept switching itself off, and I eventually found out it was actually dangerous.”
Stuart Kitchingman, the investigating inspector at HSE, added: “Mr Jonathan has displayed an appalling disregard for the lives of other people, and a total contempt for the law.
“He went out of his way to fake qualifications and he continued to carry out gas work illegally. His actions caused a considerable amount of cost and distress to his customers, and it was only luck that no one was seriously harmed.”
Paul Johnston, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added: “Gas fitters working unregistered like Stephen Jonathan are far more common than you think – we estimate they’re doing 250,000 illegal jobs each year, causing fires, explosions, gas leaks, carbon monoxide poisoning and leaving people out of pocket.”
*Image courtesy of HSE