Unqualified gas fitter '˜targeted elderly Hartlepool woman' and '˜put her life at risk'

A self-employed handyman put a homeowner's life at risk by undertaking gas work while not qualified, say health and safety chiefs.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 6:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 6:55 am
Teesside Magistrates' Court

Paul Joseph Vokes, trading as Paul’s Handyman Services, carried out work to replace ridge tiles on the roof of a property in Coatham Drive, Hartlepool, Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard.

The Health and Safety Executive, (HSE) said one of the tiles incorporated an adaptor so that it could be connected directly to the flue pipe, which ran from the ground floor to the loft.

The purpose of the flue was to direct products of combustion, like carbon monoxide from the gas boiler, directly outside.

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An investigation by the HSE found the type of tile vent purchased by Vokes was neither an adequate or appropriate substitute for the roof tile it was to replace.

The investigation also found Vokes was not competent to carry out work on flues or any gas fittings, nor was he registered with Gas Safe Register.

The HSE says his work fell well short of the expected standards when dealing with flues for gas appliances, therefore putting the homeowner at risk of serious harm or even death.

Vokes, of Cresswell Drive, Hartlepool, pleaded guilty to breaching Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

He was given a custodial sentence of 18 weeks, and was ordered to pay £3,000 costs and a compensation payment of £1,470.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE inspector Jonathan Wills said: “Mr Vokes targeted an elderly lady in order to profit financially, with a flagrant disregard for the law.”

“Had the work been carried out properly by someone competent to do so, then the homeowner’s life would not have been put at risk.”