Darlington plumber who turned his hand to gas fitting endangered lives, court told

The Northern Echo: Darlington Magistrates Courts Darlington Magistrates Courts

A ROGUE gas fitter endangered lives by carrying out unsafe work in Darlington homes, a court heard.

Christopher James Chapman was not registered or qualified to undertake gas work but still fitted boilers, hobs and gas fires in properties between March 2005 and October 2012.

Jonathan Wills, prosecuting for the Health and Safety Executive, told Darlington Magistrates’ Court today (Wednesday, December 4) that the faults in Chapman’s work were so serious at one property that the gas had to be disconnected – leaving the pregnant householder without a supply.

Mr Wills said: “It was the opinion of the investigations officer that the work that had been carried out on the boiler in the house was an immediate danger to life and as a result it was disconnected.

“The gas fire also had faults that were considered a danger to life.”

Mr Wills said that Chapman had also carried out gas safety checks at properties when he had no authority to do so.

He added that although Chapman had been Corgi registered since 1995, his qualification only accounted for small gas jobs, such as pipe and flue fitting, and the accreditation was withdrawn in 2004 because his training was inadequate.

Chapman, of Newlands Road, Darlington, pleaded guilty to ten charges of contravening health and safety regulations.

Mitigating, Sonny Lawson described the 66-year-old as a hard-working family man with his own plumbing business.

He said he wanted to apologise to everybody affected by the case and told the court that Chapman did not tout for gas work, but took jobs when they were offered because a divorce settlement left him financially desperate.

Mr Lawson said: “He was Corgi registered until 2004.

“In 2010 he told them that he didn’t want to renew or appeal because he was considering early retirement and had put plans in place.

“Then he got a £96,000 bill for a divorce settlement.

“He has had to remortgage his home on two occasions; any hopes of early retirement were pulled away from him.

“It was a vicious cycle of financial trouble; trying to keep on top of mortgage repayments and trying to keep a business going.”

Magistrates said the offences were so serious that they had insufficient powers to deal with them so Chapman was sent to Teesside Crown Court for sentencing on a date to be fixed.

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