Unregistered gas fitter sentenced for false claims and endangering life

An East Devon gas fitter who risked the lives of a young couple through his dangerous work falsely claimed to be on the Gas Safe Register, a court has heard.

Luke Potts, who trades as Devon Plumber, installed a new gas boiler at a home in Chelmsford Road, Exeter, in May 2012 that was classed as “immediately dangerous” when checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer.

He claimed to be a registered engineer himself, an untruth that came to light after the householders complained about his dangerous work.

Exeter Magistrates’ were told today (10 April) that an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Gas Safe Register found the flue for the boiler had been incorrectly fitted, which could have led to lethal carbon monoxide leaking into the property.

In addition, the gas meter box had been altered by drilling a hole in it to feed in a new gas pipe, which could have allowed gas to leak into the building.

Although Mr Potts was unregistered, having failed to renew his registration in January 2012, he continued to display the Gas Safe Register logo on his website. The householders relied on this when they asked him to fit the boiler, assuming he was fully accredited and qualified.

Luke Potts, of Cornhill, Ottery St Mary, was given a 20 week custodial sentence, suspended for 18 months and ordered to carry out 60 hours of community service. He was also ordered to pay £1,000 in costs after pleading guilty to three separate breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Simon Jones, said:

“Mr Potts’ poor work could have had tragic consequences for the householders, who put their lives in his hands.

“They believed he was a registered engineer and asked him to do the work as a result. If an individual is working on gas appliances and installations is not on the Gas Safe Register they are working illegally.”

Paul Johnston, chief executive for Gas Safe Register said:

“A quarter of a million illegal gas jobs are carried out every year by fitters who don’t have the skills or the qualifications to work safely on gas. It’s therefore vital the public always make sure the person working on their gas appliances is on the Gas Safe Register.

“You can check your engineer is legal and safe by asking to see their Gas Safe ID card. You can also check the engineer’s registration number by calling us on 0800 408 5500, or visiting the website www.gassaferegister.co.uk link to external website.”

Further information on gas safety can be found on the HSE website at www.hse.gov.uk/gas.