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Suspended prison sentence for builder who left gas escape

A Buckinghamshire builder has been given a suspended prison sentence for carrying out gas work when he was not qualified to do so.

Reading Crown Court heard that Thomas Murray, who traded as Kerbgold Design and Construction Ltd, was contracted to manage a large-scale renovation and extension of a property in Maidenhead, Berkshire, in July 2018. The project involved significant gas work, including the installation of a gas boiler, relocation of the gas meter and the installation of associated pipework for both.

The project overran and the householders had to return to the property in January 2019, when they reported the smell of gas. Mr Murray carried out a test which did not detect a gas escape.

The homeowners’ concerns persisted and they contacted a registered gas engineer to inspect the installation. The engineer found a gas escape and other faults within the installation.

The court also heard that the gas supplier, Cadent, had not been notified about the relocation of the meter and pipework. The pipework leading to the meter was found to have been laid to incorrect depth, and fittings suitable only for water pipework had been used throughout the installation.

The HSE investigation found that although Mr Murray arranged for a Gas Safe engineer to install the boiler, the engineer had only connected the water plumbing and had left the property due to concerns being raised. Mr Murray decided to undertake some of the gas work himself as a temporary fix so that the homeowners would have heating and hot water.

Thomas Murray, of Heath End Road, Flackwell Heath, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to breaching section 3(2) of the Health Safety at Work Act 1974. He was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for 18 months and ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Karen Morris said: “Mr Murray was responsible for overseeing the gas work, which was not finished and had left householders and their neighbours at risk from the dangers and effects of leaking gas. To make matters worse, he decided to try and finish the job himself, despite not being competent to do so. His failures could have led to catastrophic and tragic consequences.”

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