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Botched installation puts pensioner at risk of death

Paul Hockey, trading as PCH Plumbing was installing extractor units in the flat in Borough Green. He decided to vent them through the loft and went up into the roof space to carry out the work. There he cut into a gas flue that he assumed was idle and used it to vent the extractors. He then taped over the bottom section of the flue so that insects could not get in.
Unaware that he had inadvertently taped up the flue to the downstairs flat, Mr Hockey left the premises thinking the job was finished.
It was several weeks later that the 92-year-old lady in the downstairs flat reported suffering from dizziness and headaches. She had also fallen several times.
When Southern Gas Networks visited the property to investigate they found that the taped-up flue was causing fumes to build up in the lady’s flat.
Mr Hockey was found guilty of breaching the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was fined £1250 plus costs of £500.
HSE inspector, Rob Hassell, said: “Paul Hockey was totally unaware that the flue he cut into was still in use. Alterations should only be carried out by suitably qualified Gas Safe Registered engineers. Thankfully this elderly lady suffered no ill-effects longer term. However, people can and do die from carbon monoxide poisoning.”
Diane Parker, partner and head of Atherton Godfrey’s Personal Injury department, echoed the HSE and said: “This lady had a very lucky escape. Unfortunately, we have dealt with several cases where the outcome wasn’t so good and families have had to deal with the tragic loss of a loved one through an entirely preventable situation. Gas installation and alterations should only ever be carried out by a suitably qualified person.”

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