A North Devon plumber is under curfew, having received a suspended prison sentence and tagging order after fraudulently claiming to be a registered gas fitter.

The tagging order issued by Barnstaple Magistrates Court on 7 November prevents Ben Laverty from leaving his home between the hours of 8pm and 7am for the next two months.

Laverty was charged with two breaches of safety law after he failed to check gas appliances he had been asked to test and produced false certificates declaring them safe at four properties in Barnstaple.

Magistrates were told that Laverty was asked to carry out routine gas appliance tests by a managing agent working on behalf of landlords in the area.

Suspicions were raised about his work when he repeatedly failed to provide a certificate for one of the properties. The agent then checked with the Gas Safe Register and found he was not registered and had been using another member's identification number on certificates he had previously issued.

An investigation by Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that, instead of properly testing the appliances, Laverty had only made an inadequate visual inspection of the appliances at three properties and did not visit a fourth.

Laverty, who pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(7) of the Gas Safety Regulations and Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act, received a four-week prison sentence, suspended for 12 months, and was ordered to pay prosecution costs of £1,938.

HSE Inspector Simon Jones said: "Laverty unnecessarily put lives at risk through his failure to carry out the work he was asked to do, and in leading the managing agent into believing that he was legitimately registered to undertake the gas safety checks.

"All gas engineers must be members of the Gas Safe Register by law so customers can be sure they are dealing with someone who is properly trained and qualified to do the job. Unregistered installers who carry out gas work could expose people to unacceptable risks that can prove fatal. Any business or sole trader who carries out work on any gas appliance without being properly trained and registered is breaking the law and HSE will not hesitate to prosecute."