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Holiday cottage owner fined £120,000 over gas safety breaches

Burghill Farms, a partnership trading as Dalhousie Estates, and Piers Le Cheminant have been fined after the occupant of a holiday cottage was found collapsed in a bathroom heated by a portable cabinet propane gas heater.

Forfar Sheriff Court heard that in 2015, the victim, Thomas Oliver Hill, was staying with his girlfriend and her family at Glenmark Cottage, Tarfside, near Edzell in North-east Scotland. They were renting the cottage from Mr Le Cheminant, who in turn rented the property from Burghill Farms. Mr Le Cheminant paid 20 per cent of his rental income to Burghill Farms.

On 28 October 2015, Mr Hill had taken a bath in the bathroom, which was heated by the gas heater. His girlfriend and her family became concerned when he did not appear after an hour. They knocked on the bathroom door and then forced entry when they didn’t receive a response. Mr Hill was found collapsed next to the bathroom door and died later. A post-mortem found that the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning.

The HSE investigation found that Burghill Farms and Piers Le Cheminant did not have a suitable and sufficient system of maintenance in place for the cabinet heaters. These were placed in rooms that were too small for the size of heater to be used safely due to a lack of suitable ventilation. However, these failings could not be proven to be causally connected to the death of Mr Hill.

Burghill Farms of Brechin Castle, Brechin, Angus, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 36(2)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and Section 33(1)(c) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. The company was fined £120,000.

Piers Le Cheminant, of Poundsgate, Newton Abbot, Devon, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 35 of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, and Section 33(1)(c) the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was fined £2,000.

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