Handyman with ‘flagrant disregard’ jailed

Handyman with ‘flagrant disregard’ jailed

A self-employed handyman has been sentenced after undertaking gas work which put the life of a homeowner at significant risk.

Teesside Magistrates’ Court heard that, on 16 May 2014, 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.

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 space.

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

Not suitable

Investigating, the HSE found that the type of tile vent purchased by Vokes was neither an adequate or appropriate substitute for the roof tile it was to replace, and was designed simply to ventilate the loft space. It did not incorporate an adaptor and was therefore not suitable to flue products of combustion.

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

Custodial sentence

Paul Joseph 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”.

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