A County Durham plumber has received community service for putting the lives of tenants at risk after deceiving landlords by claiming he was Gas Safe registered.

Keith Downie supplied gas safety records to the landlords of at least three properties in the Darlington area between February and May 2012, Darlington Magistrates’ Court heard on 9 December.

The documents stated that the gas safety checks required had been carried out, but they proved to be fraudulent. 

Mr Downie had told the landlords he was Gas Safe registered, and in two instances he even claimed to be the engineer that had carried out the previous year’s checks. However, Mr Downie had never been Gas Safe registered and was not competent to carry out the work.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation after a member of the public alerted them to his activities.

Keith Downie, 51, was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months, ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to six breaches of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act.

HSE inspector Jonathan Wills said: “Mr Downie displayed a deliberate and reckless approach to the law by putting the tenants of these three properties at risk with a view to profiting financially.

“Having deceived the landlords into thinking he was Gas Safe registered, he then provided them with documents to show the appliances were safe, even though he was not competent to carry out such checks.

“This case should act as a reminder that HSE will prosecute those who flout the law in such a way, putting the lives of members of the public in danger.”