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Truro woman left “horrified” at illegal gas fitters sentence

By WBEsme  |  Posted: February 11, 2014

Comments (6)

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.

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  • josdave  |  February 11 2014, 7:03PM

    The qualifications do not mean a safe job will be done. Some years ago a qualified Corgi fitter in Plymouth caused an explosion that wrecked a house. Not only that badges can be faked. I agree that measures should be taken to make sure he pays and if he ends up on benefits these should be reduced to the very minimum.

  • DipStick  |  February 11 2014, 2:40PM

    I assume the "defendant" is marking all the comments with red arrows ..... DS

  • twofeetofsnow  |  February 11 2014, 12:01PM

    This is the result of trying to get work done cheaply, not asking to see the engineers gas safe card and not checking it carefully.There are too many "mates" who will put a fire in for you or fit a kitchen appliance when they know nothing of how to do the work safely or correctly. Get a qualified engineer in the first place, if they are too expensive then get a few quotes and choose the one for you but never get anyone to do the work if the have no card. The only way to drive these people out of business is to check and check again before reporting the ones who have no card.

  • First Impressions  |  February 11 2014, 11:37AM

    Good comment Geoff. They should deduct it weekly/monthly AT SOURCE from either their pay packet or benefits payment. However, this could be a problem if the offender gets paid in cash of course. My wife worked at the Magistrates' Courts in Truro and she told me it was a nightmare getting people to pay....if at all!

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  • TheGeofflane  |  February 11 2014, 11:33AM

    What they don't tell you is when and how the several thousand pounds fines will be paid off. If ever.

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  • First Impressions  |  February 11 2014, 10:46AM

    I would always check to ensure that whoever does any work on your house has references and the correct qualifications to do the job. Without these, you are taking a huge risk which you did. I am so glad you are safe and sound. I agree that the sentence was too lenient although I doubt he would attempt to do work of this nature again particularly as everyone now knows his name.

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