A cowboy gas fitter from Nottinghamshire has been prosecuted by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) following Gas Safe Register's investigation, which uncovered illegal and dangerous gas work.

Robert Metcalf, 54, trading as Metcalf Plumbing, carried out dangerous gas work in a property in Hucknall in September 2009, putting residents’ lives at risk.

Metcalf, of Colwick, appeared at Nottingham Magistrates Court in April after pleading guilty to breaching Regulation 3(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was fined £500 and ordered to pay costs of £200.

Gas Safe Register carried out the investigation in December 2009 following a complaint, made by Metcalf’s customer, that the newly-installed boiler was not working. The investigations officer visited the property to look at the gas work that had been done. During the visit they found that the gas work had not been carried out by a registered engineer.

Gas Safe Register also found faults with the boiler installation. There was a lack of earth bonding, the pipework sleeve was not sealed where it passed through the wall and, importantly, the flue was not sealed on the inside or outside of the building.

In addition, the pressure relief discharge pipe was sighted above a doorway onto a walkway, which could have resulted in hot scalding water being sprayed onto the homeowners.

The Register forwarded on its investigation report to the HSE and worked with the organisation to take enforcement action against the fitter.

Phill Brewster, national investigations manager for Gas Safe Register, said: “This case could have been a lot more serious if the homeowner had not contacted us so soon after the boiler was installed. Our investigation highlighted various faults with the boiler, which needed to be rectified to make it safe to use. This goes to show that if you’re not registered, you’re not competent to work safely with gas.”

Brewster added: “Of the jobs we investigate, one in five is deemed immediately dangerous and the investigations team will have to shut down the appliance straight away. In most instances, the investigations team is alerted to illegal gas fitters by the public, but we want more registered businesses to help us find and investigate illegal gas workers putting the public at risk.

"If you suspect someone is working illegally, I would urge you to contact us as soon as possible through our website or by calling 0800 408 5500. We will always aim to go out to visit the property and inspect the work, and in all cases of dangerous work we notify the property owner so that faults can be rectified by a registered engineer.”

In the last year alone 10 people have died and more than 330 have been injured in the UK as a result of gas-related incidents.Since replacing CORGI three years ago, Gas Safe Register has been responsible for 2,000 investigations into illegal and unsafe gas work. These investigations have resulted in £500,000 worth of fines and the imprisonment of seven fitters for carrying out dangerous gas work. 

For more information visit www.GasSafeRegister.co.uk.