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Staffordshire man in court for illegal gas work

Date:
8 October 2013

A Stoke-on-Trent man has been given a suspended prison sentence for multiple gas safety offences, including pretending to be Gas Safe registered, several breaches of legal orders banning him from carrying out gas work and falsifying a Landlord’s Gas Safety Record.

Cannock Magistrates’ Court was today (8 October) told that Christopher Andrew Morton, 61, of Ramsey Street, Fenton, was registered as a gas engineer for two periods between 2000 and 2003 but was refused re-registration in May 2003 because he failed to demonstrate sufficient competence to the-then registration body, CORGI.

When he came to the attention of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2008, a Prohibition Notice was served on Mr Morton, banning him from carrying out any further gas work. He failed a refresher training course the following year so was again unable to gain registered status.

The court heard that despite this, he continued to carry out gas work including installing boilers and gas fires and issuing Landlord’s Gas Safety Records. On one such record he used the name of a genuinely-registered business without its knowledge.

Following information from the local council, Gas Safe and HSE visited three properties in the Stoke-on-Trent area and found faults with the work Mr Morton had carried out.

Christopher Andrew Morton pleaded guilty to 14 charges of breaching Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 by breaching Prohibition Notices on different dates and locations between June 2011 and March 2013. He also admitted one breach of Section 33(1)(l) of the same Act for intentionally making a false entry on a document and 13 breaches of Regulation 3(7) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 for falsely  pretending to be Gas Safe registered.

He was sentenced to 26 weeks in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered to carry out 200 hours of unpaid work. He must also pay full legal costs of £1,625.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Janice Dale said:

“Christopher Morton put lives and property in danger by deliberately and persistently flouting the laws that are designed to protect people from sub-standard and faulty gas work carried out by unregistered gas fitters. It is fortunate his illegal work did not result in injury or death.

“Anybody who carries out work on gas pipes or appliances without being on the Gas Safe Register or in direct contravention of a Prohibition Notice is breaking the law. Christopher Morton was not qualified to carry out the work he was employed to do and was therefore putting lives at risk.”

Russell Kramer, Chief Executive of Gas Safe Register, added:

“Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries an ID card which shows who they are and the kind of work they are qualified to undertake. We encourage people to always ask to see the card, and to check they details with us by calling 0800 408 5500 or by visiting www.gassaferegister.co.uk

On average, 10 people each year die from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by poorly installed, maintained or ventilated gas appliances and flues. Many more people become seriously ill and in extreme cases, prolonged exposure to carbon monoxide can cause paralysis and brain damage.

Notes to editors

  1. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice, promoting training, new or revised regulations and codes of practice, and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement. www.hse.gov.uk
  2. Regulation 3(7) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 states: “No person shall falsely pretend to be a member of a class of persons required to be approved under paragraph (3) above.”
  3. Section 33(1)(g) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It is an offence for a person … to contravene any requirement or prohibition imposed by an improvement notice or a prohibition notice (including any such notice as modified on appeal).”
  4. Section 33(1)(l) of the same Act states: “It is an offence for a person to intentionally make a false entry in any register, book, notice or other document required by or under any of the relevant statutory provisions to be kept, served or given or, with intent to deceive, to make use of any such entry which he knows to be false.”
  5. Gas engineers undertaking gas installation and maintenance work must be registered with a body approved by the HSE. Currently the approved body is Gas Safe Register. More information and a full list of registered engineers can be found on www.gassaferegister.co.uk.

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