When William Tumilty moved into his ground-floor flat in May last year he had no idea the property was a potential death trap.
Unbeknown to Mr Tumilty, 59, the gas-fired heater in his Sproughton, Ipswich, apartment had been wrongly serviced the month before by Greg Ranson, an Ipswich-based engineer who was Gas Safe-registered.
Because of the mild spring, the tenant didn’t switch his heating until November. When he did, the gas fumes instantly made Mr Tumilty feel sick during the hours the heater was activated.
On day three of having the heating on, he collapsed unconscious and did not wake up until more than 12 hours afterwards.
The family living above his flat, a couple and their two-year-old toddler, also required hospital attention after being hit by the fumes.
Mr Tumilty was diagnosed with carbon monoxide poisoning when he went to hospital.
A subsequent Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that the heater had been wrongly serviced.
Its officials discovered that the heat exchanger had been left uncleaned and uninspected during the service, leading to an accumulation of fine dust. This left dangerous combustion by-products with nowhere safe to escape.
Ipswich magistrates sentenced Ranson to an 18-month jail term suspended for a total of 18 months during Tuesday’s (August 12) hearing.
Ranson was also told to pay £1,500 across his three victims as well as £813 costs. He admitted guilt to breaching the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974.
Anthony Brookes, an HSE inspector, said afterwards that the case shows the diligence and care required to make gas-fired heaters safe for use.
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Date Published: August 14, 2014
Author: David Brown