Picture of a range cooker

Suspended sentence for illegal gas fitter who caused gas escape in care home

A kitchen fitter has been given a suspended prison sentence after a range cooker that he fitted at a care home suffered a substantial gas escape.

Exeter Crown Court heard that on 24 December 2020, Mark Whitham, from Barnstaple, fitted the new gas range cooker at the residential care home in North Devon after damaging the existing gas cooker while he was fitting out a new kitchen. Over the next 24 hours, staff at the care home had problems using the cooker and contacted their usual Gas Safe registered engineer. The engineer found a substantial gas escape from the gas supply to the cooker and reported the installation under RIDDOR.

The HSE investigation found that Mr Whitham was not Gas Safe registered and did not follow the manufacturer’s instructions when he fitted the cooker.

Mark Whitham of Fallow Fields, Barnstaple, Devon, pleaded guilty to breaching Regulations 3(1) and 22(1)(a) of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to six months in prison for each offence, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to undertake 120 hours of unpaid work, and pay £2,000 costs.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Simon Jones said: “Mark Whitham undertook gas work, which he knew he was not registered to do. In this case Mark Whitham’s unregistered gas work put the lives of vulnerable people at real risk from fire and explosion.”

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