News item

Builder and gas fitter prosecuted following botch central heating jobs

A builder who arranged for a plumber who was not Gas Safe registered to install two gas central heating systems has been prosecuted.

Weymouth Magistrates Court yesterday ordered builder Paul Lelliot, 45, of Portland, to pay a fine of £6,252 while plumber Darren Campell, 40, also of Portland, was given a fine of £3,457.

Dorset County Council’s trading standards service investigated the two following a complaint from a local resident.

In August, Mr Campbell pleaded guilty to two charges under The Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981 and four charges under the Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations 2008.

On 14 February, Mr Lelliot pleaded guilty to one offence of Misleading Marketing, while his company, PR Lelliot Builders Ltd, pleaded guilty to four offences under the same regulations.

The court heard that landlady Vivienne Marshall had contracted with Paul Lelliot to convert a house she owned in Easton Street, Portland, into two flats.

The work included installing two central heating systems and the quotation stated that all of the gas work would meet current regulations. The total cost of the conversion was about £60 000.

Mr Lelliot sub-contacted the gas work to Mr Campbell, but made no checks that he was registered with Gas Safe, as he was legally required to be.

The plumber had previously been registered to carry out gas work on behalf of a company he had worked for, but this had lapsed when he left the company and Mr Campbell had never been registered to do gas work in his own right.

When the work was completed, Mrs Marshall asked for completion certificates for the gas installations so that she could legally let her properties.

Mr Campbell said in interview that when asked for these he panicked as he had never registered an installation before and had forged the signature and Gas Safe registration number of his previous employer on two landlords’ gas safety certificates and a boiler commissioning checklist.

A few weeks later, one of the boilers was only producing hot water intermittently and when the manufacturers were called out they found that the hot and cold pipes had been installed the wrong way round. This prompted the landlady to call Gas Safe who told her that Darren Campbell was not registered with them. They sent an inspector to examine the work who reported that it was not to current standards and advised her to contact trading standards.

Mr Campbell was fined £500 on each of six charges with £442 costs and a £15 victim surcharge. The chair of the bench said: “This was wilful and deliberate deception using another person’s identity and you should have known better.”

Paul Lelliot pleaded guilty to one offence relating to the statement on the quotation that all work would be to current standards and was fined £400.

His company pleaded guilty to the same offence and was fined £500 and to three offences relating to the falsely signed certificates and booklet and was fined £1000 for each offence, £2337 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

The chair of the magistrates said at sentencing: “These are serious offences which could pose a considerable risk to the tenants of the properties.

Martin Thursby, principal trading standards officer at Dorset County Council, said:

“These cases show how important it is that only competent and registered trades people carry out gas work.

“Mrs Marshall relied on a local builder to make sure a costly building project was safely and legally completed and her trust was betrayed.

“Safety is a high priority for the trading standards service and we will take action where appropriate. The significant fines in these cases demonstrate that the court holds the same view.”

Anyone wishing to make a complaint to trading standards should contact Citizens Advice on 08454 040506.

Local businesses wanting advice can call the council’s trading standards service on 01305 224702.


Notes to editor

For further information about this case you can contact Martin Thursby on 01305 224478 or Richard Herringshaw on 01305 224359.

Mrs Marshall has indicated she may be willing to be interviewed about her experience. Please contact the above if you wish to speak to her.

The Business Protection from Misleading Marketing Regulations Act 2008 created offences for business-to-business transactions. The offences relate to advertising, which has a wide definition that includes any representation made in the course of a business, hence the statements in the quote that the work would be to current regulations and the forged certificates were caught by these offences.
For further information please contact:

Communications Unit, County Hall, Dorchester DT1 1XJ. Tel 01305 224491