An unregistered gas fitter has been sent to prison after carrying out work at more than 85 homes across South Yorkshire and Worksop that left families and children at risk.

Steven Carter, 49, of Maltby, Rotherham appeared yesterday (17 April) before Doncaster Magistrates for sentencing on three charges under the Gas Safety regulations, regarding work carried out for two landlords at 85 properties in Rotherham, Doncaster and Worksop between 1 April 2010 and 18 March 2011.

During sentencing, Carter was told by district judge Jonathan Bennett: "This was a reckless breach of the law...It is by good fortune that there has not been any serious injury or ill health as a result of the offences. However, there has been the potential for serious harm to the tenants in the houses where you worked.

"You were an experienced gas fitter working without registration for 11 months on numerous properties. In two houses the work was dangerous and people were at risk. Considerable steps have had to be taken to remedy your work."

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE), working with Gas Safe Register investigators, found Carter had left a series of defects after carrying out work on gas boilers, fires and cookers. Some were identified as ‘immediately dangerous’, indicating there was a risk to tenants of injury or even death from exposure to carbon monoxide or an explosion. Many more defects were classed as falling well below current standards.

Carter claimed to have successfully carried out various safety tests on appliances when in fact it was not actually possible or required to test that particular appliance.

He had also failed to renew his registration with Gas Safe, which expired on 30 March 2010. Both landlords for whom he worked were unaware that his Gas Safe registration was invalid.

Carter pleaded guilty to three breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation & Use) Regulations 1998, including one charge relating to the illegal work at over 85 properties. He was jailed for a total of 16 weeks.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Mark Welsh said: "Mr Carter carried out work that he knew full well to be illegal. He is now in prison, which reflects the seriousness of his offences. I hope this sends a strong message to illegal gas fitters that HSE will take enforcement action in such cases. Mr Carter left appliances in a dangerous state, putting lives at risk, and much of his other work was well below acceptable standards.

"There are legal rules and obligations governing gas work for the very simple reason that defective work can be lethal. Steven Carter should not have carried out any of the work in those 85 properties. It is pure good luck that a more serious incident had not occurred before the level of poor and dangerous workmanship was identified.

"Gas work should only be undertaken by someone qualified and competent to do so. That means they need to be current Gas Safe members with up-to-date competencies."

Russell Kramer, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, concluded: "Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries an ID card which shows who they are and the kind of work they are competent to carry out. Qualifications and registration need to be renewed on a regular basis so always check the ID card for expiry dates or check with us by calling 0800 408 5500 or visiting”