A Truro woman is “horrified” at the sentence a court has given to an illegal gas fitter who could have caused her death.
Michael Rowe, of Gilbert Road, Bodmin, pleaded guilty to working without the required qualifications and putting people at risk of danger in Truro Magistrates Court on Friday.
But 25 year-old Megan Palmer from Trispen was left aghast at the court’s decision to fine the man who caused a gas leak in her kitchen.
“I’m horrified,” she said.
“There is nothing to stop him going out and doing the same thing again.”
Rowe was employed by Miss Palmer in 2011 to fit a gas hob in her kitchen.
But in March last year her partner, John Gibson, discovered a fire in their kitchen.
She said: “At around 9.30 at night my partner went in to the kitchen and saw that the pipes in the hob were aflame. We put it out and called the fire brigade and they told us to evacuate the building.
“It was lucky I was there, I was about to drop my partner off to work and if I had gone I could have come back and to find my house has exploded.
“Even the firemen said I was lucky.”
A subsequent inspection by a Gas Safe registered engineer found that the hob was not installed correctly and had been leaking from 11 different places inside and out of the house.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) also found Rowe was not a registered gas engineer and had never been a member of the Gas Safe Register or its predecessor, CORGI.
The couple were forced to stay at the home of a family member on the night of the fire and had to pay £1,800 to replace the hob.
Miss Palmer has also spoken of the psychological trauma of the event.
She said: “It sounds silly, but your nervous about using the hob again, and you get paranoid at any little click.”
The HSE have condemned Rowe’s behaviour.
HSE Inspector Simon Jones, said: “Mr Rowe should not have been carrying out work on gas appliances because he is not qualified or competent to do so.
“His substandard work put the lives of other people at risk. Anyone who works on gas fittings and is not Gas Safe registered is working illegally.”
The Gas Safe Register has warned households to only use registered engineers to carry out gas work.
Engineer registration can be checked by calling the Gas Safe Register on 0800 408 5500, asking to see a Gas Safe ID card or by visiting the website, www.gassaferegister.co.uk.
Rowe was fined a total of £2,000 and ordered to pay £1,770 in costs. He was also ordered to pay £250 in compensation to Miss Palmer.