Suspended jail sentences for fireplace fitters who did unregistered gas work in Wigan

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Two unscrupulous fireplace installers have avoided jail after carrying out unregistered gas work in Wigan and further afield.

Karl Welsh and James Allen were given suspended prison sentences and ordered to do community work following a sentencing hearing in Manchester.

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The duo carried out substandard and dangerous gas work at three properties, including at least one in the borough.

Gas Safe inspectors found two installation defects that were immediately dangerous, one of them spilling carbon monoxide into a house.

However, one of their Wigan victims hit out furiously after the verdict, saying she believed they should have ended up behind bars.

The court heard both Welsh, from Skelmersdale, and Allen from Radcliffe in Bury plead guilty to three breaches of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998.

Welsh ended up with a suspended sentence of 10 months, 150 hours of unpaid work and an order to pay £2,200 in costs.

Allen was given the same suspended jail term and amount of community work and will have to pay £1,000 in costs.

Jill Earley, from Platt Bridge, told after the hearing how she had faced a two-year-long ordeal after originally buying a new fireplace from Wigan firm Black Diamond.

Neither Welsh nor Allen are now connected to the company.

Ms Earley also slammed the final sentence given to the pair.

She said: “I think it’s absolutely disgusting they only got a suspended sentence. If they had just got a month in jail I would have been happy with that.

“The judge was slating them and saying it was one of the most serious circumstances he had seen where there wasn’t a loss of life but because there hadn’t been any injury he could only give a suspended sentence.

“They were saying it was still a serious penalty but it doesn’t seem like that.

“Our fire was completely mismeasured, everything was wrong with it. The installer and labourer didn’t know what to do.

“When we got the manufacturer out they said the pipe that brings the gas in had a 90-degree bend in it whereas it should have been curved. They said it would weaken over time. It was immediately condemned.

“It was then turned off again after it started giving off too much heat and melted picture hooks.

“When I started speaking to Gas Safe engineers it became clear Karl Welsh was signing off James Allen’s work. I knew I wasn’t going to let this drop.”

Speaking after the hearing Health and Safety Executive (HSE) inspector Jennifer French said: “Karl Welsh and James Allen undertook gas work which they knew they were not registered to do.

“All gas work must be done by registered Gas Safe engineers to ensure the highest standards are met to prevent injury and loss of life.

“HSE will not fail to take the appropriate enforcement action against those that fall below the required standards.”