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Yorkshire plumbers given suspended prison sentences

Suspended prison terms have been handed out to two plumbers for falsely claiming to be Gas Safe registered engineers and leaving one local family in “immediate danger”.

Steven Paffett and Ben Leeming, directors of PH Plumbing and Heating Engineers Ltd, were caught when two householders complained separately to Gas Safe after having problems with work done at their homes. Both householders had been told by the firm that they were Gas Safe registered and one was given a business card with the Register’s logo on.

The defendants pleaded guilty to a number of breaches of the Gas Safety Regulations before Harrogate Magistrates’ Court last month and sentenced on Friday (January 13).

HSE Inspector Kate Dixon, told the court that shortly after PH Plumbing fitted a condensing boiler, the householder called in a registered gas engineer from a different firm to do a separate job. But when he saw the boiler, the engineer deemed it to be immediately dangerous and disconnected it.

Faults included an unsealed internal flue that could have led to the gases and water produced leaking throughout the house and incorrectly-sized pipes reducing the gas being supplied to the appliance.

When the householder contacted Paffett to carry out remedial work, the firm didn’t respond, despite being paid £1,600 for the work. After getting a complaint, Gas Safe called on HSE to investigate and Prohibition Notices were served on both Paffett and Leeming in August 2010, stopping them from carrying out further gas work until they were competent and registered to do so.

In November 2010, a Harrogate resident contacted PH Plumbing after his boiler began to leak water. Paffett quoted £1,650 for a new boiler which developed faults after Leeming did the work – in breach of the Prohibition Notice.

Paffett admitted three breaches of the Gas Safety Regulations and was sentenced to a total of six months’ imprisonment suspended for 12 months. Leeming pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Regulations and one offence of contravening a Prohibition Notice, was also given six months jail suspended for 12 months. In addition, each defendant was given 150 hours’ community service.

Inspector Dixon said: “These two men pretended to be Gas Safe registered and put profit before safety – deliberately deceiving these two householders and putting at least one young family at risk.

“Some of the faults were quite basic and clearly demonstrated a lack of competence as well as care.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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