Plumber prosecuted for endangering tenants’ lives

A County Durham plumber has been sentenced for putting the lives of tenants at risk after deceiving landlords by claiming he was Gas Safe registered.

Keith Downie supplied gas safety records to the landlords of at least three properties in the Darlington area between February and May 2012.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) launched an investigation after a member of the public alerted them to his activities and Mr Downie was today (9 Dec) prosecuted at Darlington Magistrates’ Court.

The court was told that all landlords have a legal duty to ensure safety checks are carried out on gas appliances within their properties to protect their tenants, and that the work must be done by a Gas Safe engineer.

HSE’s investigation confirmed Mr Downie had provided the landlords with gas safety records for three separate properties in the town. The documents stated that the safety checks had been carried out, but they proved to be fraudulent.

Mr Downie had told the landlords he was Gas Safe registered, and in two instances he even claimed to be the engineer that had carried out the previous year’s checks. However, the court heard Mr Downie had never been Gas Safe registered and was not competent to carry out the work.

Keith Downie, 51, of The Firs, Darlington was sentenced to 16 weeks in prison suspended for 12 months and ordered to carry out 200 hours unpaid work and pay £500 in costs after pleading guilty to six breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 – three each of Section 3(2) and Section 33(1)(m).

Speaking after the case HSE inspector Jonathan Wills said:

“Mr Downie displayed a deliberate and reckless approach to the law by putting the tenants of these three properties at risk with a view to profiting financially.

“Having deceived the landlords into thinking he was Gas Safe registered, he then provided them with documents to show the appliances were safe, even though he was not competent to carry out such checks.

“This case should act as a reminder that HSE will prosecute those who flout the law in such a way, putting the lives of members of the public in danger.”

Homeowners and landlords can check whether a gas engineer has a valid licence card by visiting the Gas Safe website at: or calling 0800 408 5500. For more information about gas safety checks and who can do them, log onto the HSE website at:

Notes to Editors

  1. Health and Safety Executive is Britain’s national regulator for workplace health and safety. It aims to reduce work-related death, injury and ill health. It does so through research, information and advice; promoting training; new or revised regulations and codes of practice; and working with local authority partners by inspection, investigation and enforcement.
  2. Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It shall be the duty of every self-employed person to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that he and other persons (not being his employees) who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety.”
  3. Section 33(1)(m) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 states: “It is an offence for a person with intent to deceive, to forge or use a document issued or authorised to be issued under any of the relevant statutory provisions or required for any purpose thereunder or to make or have in his possession a document so closely resembling any such document as to be calculated to deceive.”
  4. HSE news releases are available at http//

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