Plumbers in court over illegal gas work in Essex

One plumber has been sentenced to 200 hours unpaid community service, and another has been fined, over illegal gas work that put lives in danger at a hotel in Sawbridgeworth.

James Outtridge, 61, of Upper Swains, Epping, was prosecuted after an investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found work on several gas appliances he had overseen, left them ‘At Risk’.

Scott Wilson, 43, from Buckwells Field, Hertford, was prosecuted for carrying out illegal gas work under Mr Outtridge’s supervision on one occasion, also leaving appliances ‘At Risk’.

Chelmsford Magistrates’ Court heard (10 February) that Mr Outtridge was asked by the hotel landlord to install a gas-fired hot water boiler at The Railway Hotel in Sawbridgeworth in November 2013.

Mr Outtridge arranged for the boiler to be installed by a gas fitter who was not registered with Gas Safe Register to carry out private gas work, as the law requires. This boiler was later found to have been left ‘At Risk’.

Following a Food Hygiene inspection by an Environmental Health Officer (EHO), Mr Outtridge was then asked to arrange for important gas safety checks to be carried out on the gas appliances at the hotel. Mr Outtridge again failed to use a Gas Safe registered engineer and the landlord was supplied with a fraudulent report reassuring him that his appliances were safe to use.

When the report was found by the EHO to be fraudulent, Mr Outtridge arranged for Scott Wilson to repeat these safety checks. But Mr Wilson was also not registered with Gas Safe register to carry out private gas work, either.

James Outtridge of Upper Swains, Epping, Essex, was sentenced to 200 hours of unpaid community service, with the bench describing him as ‘highly culpable’. He was also ordered to pay costs of £1,300 and a £60 victim surcharge for three breaches of Regulation 4 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

Scott Wilson of Buckwells Field, Hertford, Hertfordshire, was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay £611 in costs plus a £120 victim surcharge for breaches of Regulation 3(1) and Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

After the case, HSE Inspector Sue Matthews said:

“People can die as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, and, by their negligence, James Outtridge and Scott Wilson could have caused the illness or death of the owner and employees at this hotel.

“The purpose of the Gas Safe Register is to protect the public from gas work being carried out by people who have not been trained and are not competent. On several occasions Mr Outtridge used persons including Mr Wilson, who were not registered and had not been assessed as competent by Gas Safe Register. Their actions endangered members of the public, putting them at serious risk of injury and even potentially death.”

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 or workplace, 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”

Further information about gas safety can be found online