Weighing scales signifying justice

Plumber defrauded customers and claimed he was Gas Safe registered

A Hereford plumber has been given a suspended prison sentence for defrauding customers and falsely claiming to be Gas Safe registered.

Hereford Magistrates heard that Ashley Powell had carried out illegal gas work on domestic boilers, gas cookers and gas fires between June 2018 and March 2023.

Herefordshire Council Trading Standards, prosecuting, said Mr Powell had installed a new boiler for one woman in Hereford, which was subsequently condemned, resulting in her having to pay £850 for repairs to make it safe. He issued bogus gas safety certificates using his former Gas Safe registration and licence numbers: his registration had expired in March 2018.

His work was mainly boiler repairs in and around Hereford. He asked for money up front for parts but failed to carry out the work, blowing the money on personal expenditure including online gambling.

He came to the council’s attention in May 2023, when one of his customers complained that she had paid a deposit for a boiler part that was never fitted.

Ashley Powell pleaded guilty to each of the following charges:
• Breaching Section 1 of the Fraud Act 2006, for falsely representing himself as Gas Safe registered
• Breaching Section 1 of the Theft Act 1968 for taking £140 cash deposit for work never carried out
• Breaching Regulation 5 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 for taking deposits from customers and failing to carry out the work.

The magistrates imposed a four-month suspended prison sentence and warned him that he was very close to being sent to prison. Mr Powell was ordered to pay £1,822 in compensation to eight customers. He did show genuine remorse for his actions and received credit for his early guilty plea, said a Trading Standards officer.

Charles Yarnold, Herefordshire Council’s Head of Regulatory and Technical Services, said: “Members of the public are strongly advised to check that any gas engineer they use is actually Gas Safe registered. The consequences of using someone who is not legally approved can potentially be fatal. You should also not pay up front for repairs, just pay in full when the repair has been effected satisfactorily.”

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