A self-employed builder who left a home at risk of fire or explosion has been given a suspended prison sentence and community service.

Ipswich Crown Court heard that Keith Vickerstaff removed a gas boiler at the property as part of a central heating installation project, even though he was not qualified to do so, leaving an open ended, uncapped gas supply pipe.

The work was later classed as ‘immediately dangerous’ by a Gas Safe investigator, who checked the work after Mr Vickerstaff abandoned the job, despite taking a considerable deposit.

An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) into the incident on 11 October 2012 found that Mr Vickerstaff was not Gas Safe registered and was not he had been reported to Gas Safe’s predecessor, CORGI, in 2007 for a similar offence of carrying out unregistered gas work.

Keith Vickerstaff, 49, of Wainwright Way, Kesgrave, Ipswich pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 on 30 September. He received a six months prison sentence suspended for 18 months and 180 hours of unpaid community work.

HSE inspector Anthony Brookes, said: “It is sheer luck that nobody was injured as a result of Mr Vickerstaff’s shoddy and illegal work. His actions endangered householders and their neighbours and put them at serious risk of injury and even potentially death.

“He took money for work that he was not competent to do and left the occupants of the house thousands of pounds out of pocket and with an extremely dangerous gas supply that could have caused a fire or explosion at any time.”