Plymouth builder’s illegal work on gas boiler put family at risk

A Plymouth builder who was not registered to work on gas appliances risked the lives of a family when he carried out building works.

Richard Copp was asked to undertake construction of the large two storey extension to a house in Bowers Park Drive, Woolwell in June 2013.

The work was investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) which prosecuted Mr Copp at Plymouth Magistrates.

Concerns were raised by a properly registered gas engineer when it was found the boiler flue had opened into the extension with the boiler still in operation and had then been extended with an inappropriate piece of piping, with the homeowners and their children still living in the property. This meant poisonous carbon monoxide gas could have escaped and affected the family.

Mr Copp’s work was classified as “Immediately Dangerous” by a registered Gas Safe engineer and HSE was alerted.

An investigation found that Mr Copp was not registered with Gas Safe, which is a legal requirement to carry out work on gas appliances and gas appliance flues.

Richard Copp, of Hillside Avenue, Mutley, pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was given an eight month prison sentence suspended for 12 months and ordered to pay costs of £500.

Speaking after the hearing, HSE Inspector Simon Jones, said:

“The work that Richard Copp carried out posed a real risk to homeowners from carbon monoxide poisoning as the flue, which should have carried waste gases outside the house, actually ended inside the building.

“Builders should not undertake building work that causes gas appliances to operate incorrectly or dangerously, such as enclosing a gas boiler flue.

“Only Gas Safe registered engineers are legally able to work with gas and Richard Copp put lives at risk by ignoring the law.”