Lady Liberty and Scales of Justice

Suspended sentence for fake fitter who had been warned not to work on gas

A self-employed plumber has been given a suspended prison sentence after carrying out illegal and dangerous gas work and forging a Gas Safe registration number.

North Staffordshire Magistrates Court heard that, in April 2018, Jeffrey Lewis from Cheadle, incorrectly installed a new boiler in a domestic property in Stoke-on-Trent despite never having been registered. HSE, prosecuting, told the court that he also issued an invalid gas safety certificate to the occupier instead of commissioning documents, and faked a Gas Safe registration number.

The boiler had been connected to an old flue from a different manufacturer, and its spigot had been pushed in and not installed in line with the manufacturer’s instructions. HSE said the gas supply pipe to the boiler was undersized at 15mm instead of 22mm as required for part of the pipework run. Mr Lewis had not installed the original pipework under the floorboards but it would have been visible when he connected the new boiler and should have been upgraded to the correct size.

Six months after the installation, the boiler locked out during cold weather and couldn’t be restarted. The landlord had difficulty getting the boiler repaired and the lack of heating was reported to the local authority housing department, which discovered that Mr Lewis was not registered and reported its findings to HSE.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Lewis had not undertaken any appropriate training in gas work since the 1970s. Mr Lewis was also in breach of a Prohibition Notice that the HSE had issued to him in 2015 not to carry out gas work until he was competent to do so and had become Gas Safe registered.

Jeffrey Alan Lewis of Cheadle, Stoke-on-Trent, pleaded guilty to two breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 as amended, and one breach of Section 33 of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974. He was sentenced to one year in prison, suspended for 18 months, a four-month curfew from 7pm-6am, and ordered to carry out 20 rehabilitation activity days. He was ordered to pay court costs of £1,000.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Wendy Campbell said: “Mr Lewis knew that he was not registered to undertake gas work, but still put the occupier and her family at serious risk by carrying out the work.”

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