Illegal fitter damaged gas pipework and tried to bury faulty repair

A Plymouth drainage contractor has received a suspended prison sentence after he damaged gas pipework and left it in a dangerous state.

Plymouth Crown Court heard that Mark Lauder, who trades as DrainTech South West, was employed by a landlord to repair a water leak at a tenanted property in Plymouth in May 2017. The leak was in pipework buried in the concrete floor of the property.

When Mr Lauder uncovered pipework using power tools, he struck a live gas pipe, causing an immediate release of gas. Mr Lauder turned off the gas supply at the meter. But instead of contacting the gas emergency service, he left the damage overnight and attempted to repair it himself the following day.

The HSE investigation found Mr Lauder, who was not Gas Safe registered, made a repair used the wrong type of fitting and failed to carry out a gas tightness test.

The landlord arranged for a registered gas engineer to visit the property, who found that there was a gas escape and traced it to the repair made by Mr Lauder.

Mark Lauder of Ridge Park Road, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 3(1), 3(3), 6(2) and 6(6) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to pay costs of £2,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “Mr Lauder undertook gas work which he knew he was not registered to do. Having undertaken this illegal gas work, he then compounded the situation by burying his repair to hide his work.

“His unregistered and illegal gas work was of such a poor standard that it could easily have resulted in a gas explosion that could have killed the tenants at the property.”

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