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Suspended sentence for plumber who deceived landlords

A plumber has received a suspended sentence for putting the lives of landlords’ tenants at risk after deceiving landlords by claiming he was Gas Safe registered.

Keith Downie supplied gas safety records to the landlords of at least three properties in the Darlington area between February and May 2012.

The Health and Safety Executive launched an investigation after a member of the public alerted them to his activities and Downie was this week prosecuted at Darlington Magistrates’ Court.

The court was told that all landlords have a legal duty to ensure safety checks are carried out on gas appliances within their properties to protect their tenants, and that the work must be done by a Gas Safe engineer.

HSE’s investigation confirmed that Downie had provided the landlords with gas safety records for three separate properties in the town. The documents stated that the safety checks had been carried out, but they proved to be fraudulent.

Downie had told the landlords he was Gas Safe registered, and in two instances he even claimed to be the engineer that had carried out the previous year’s checks. However, the court heard Downie had never been Gas Safe registered and was not competent to carry out the work.

Downie, 51, was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to six breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

An HSE spokesman said that “Downie displayed a deliberate and reckless approach to the law.”

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