Cowboy window fitter could have blown up house with dodgy gas pipe work

Larry Boyle
Larry Boyle

A WINDOW fitter has been spared a six-month jail sentence for botched work on a gas pipe which “could have blown up a house”.

Larry Boyle, of Millbrook, Johnstown, Navan, Co. Meath pleaded guilty to unlawfully carrying out gas works without being registered with Gas Installers Ireland (RGI) while doing a job at a house at Foxborough Drive, Lucan, in Co. Dublin on December 15 last year.

He was fined €500 and also ordered to pay €1,000 legal costs of his prosecution at Dublin District Court which followed an investigation by the Commission for Energy Regulation (CER).

CER inspector Edward McDonnell told Judge John O'Neill that the home-owner got Boyle to replace a gas fire with a solid fuel fire.

Boyle installed the solid fuel fire and removed the gas one but interfered with gas pipes. He was not a registered gas installer and “hammered the copper pipe to stop gas coming out”. Mr McDonnell said that this could have led to gas leaking into the room, there was gas still in the pipe and “it had potential to be quite a dangerous situation”.

“The fact is that the pipe was hammered together instead of being properly capped off,” Mr McDonnell said.

Boyle had told the client on a number of occasions that he was registered gas installer but eventually told the home-owner that he was not, the CER official also said.

Mr McDonnell told prosecution solicitor Brian Horkan that on a couple of occasions the client tried to get Boyle to come back but eventually had to get a qualified gas installer in to do the work.

One fitter looked at the work already done and refused to take over the job because “he thought it was an unsafe situation”. However another qualified gas fitter later completed the work on the pipe and “made it safe”.

Boyle claimed in court that he never told the client he was a gas installer but that he had told them he was a plumber. When asked what his job was really Boyle, who is currently unemployed, said he was a window installer and had needed money for Christmas. Judge O'Neill said it was a "a big jump", adding “You were taking a chance, you could have blown up a house.”

He took into account the guilty plea and his family circumstances and that he had no prior criminal convictions.

He said the situation was “highly dangerous” and imposed the fine and order for costs which must be paid within four months or Boyle will be jailed for seven days in default.

The offence dealt with at district court level can result in a maximum fine of €5,000 and a six-month jail term.

In a separate case yesterday/today (THUR) Judge John O'Neill fined another man and his company a total of €1,000 along with an order to pay costs for wrongfully advertising himself as a registered gas installer. He has since become registered.

Last month energy regulator CER secured four successful prosecutions at Dublin District Court relating to gas safety against unregistered and illegally operating gas installers.

It is against the law to to carry out work on gas within the home unless registered with RGI.

There are more than 3,000 registered gas installers in Ireland. Meanwhile the number of prosecutions taken by CER has continued to rise annually since 2011, with at least 21 successful prosecutions prior to yesterday/today (THUR).