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Jail for illegal fitter who showed ‘blatant disregard for the law’

A Portsmouth plumber who had been prohibited from working with gas has been sent to prison after fitting a gas boiler.

Peter Read traded as ACE Plumbing and Heating in Portsmouth and was contracted to install a new gas boiler for a customer in January 2020, Portsmouth Magistrates’ Court heard.

A few days later, his customer had problems with the boiler. A Gas Safe registered engineer inspected and found numerous faults. Water was leaking from the boiler and radiators, and three out of five radiators installed did not work. The gas meter was not supported correctly, the chimney/flue was sealed incorrectly, the external condensate pipe was uninsulated and terminated above a drain cover, and the condensate discharge pipe was fitted incorrectly and in the wrong size pipework.

The Benchmark boiler commissioning checklist had not been completed, and nor had the boiler’s installation been notified under Building Regulations.

The qualified registered engineer had to carry out repair work to ensure that the installation was safe.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Read was not registered and not competent to carry out gas work. His competencies had expired in 2008. He had been prosecuted by the HSE previously for working on gas illegally in April 2016 and had then received a suspended prison sentence. He was also given a Prohibition Notice not work on gas until he was registered, with which he failed to comply. He was fully aware of his legal responsibilities when carrying out the gas work, said the HSE.

Peter Read of Seafield Road, Portsmouth, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) and 3(3) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 and section 22 of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sent to prison for 20 weeks.

HSE inspector Karen Morris said after the hearing: “Peter Read continued to carry out gas work while he was not competent to do so and while not Gas Safe Registered.

“He has shown a blatant disregard for the law and continues to put people at risk despite previous enforcement against him by the HSE. His actions have not only caused considerable stress for the customers concerned but have also resulted in additional financial outlay required to put right his poor-quality work.”

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