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April 14, 2011

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Builder sent to prison for putting profit before safety

A builder has been jailed for four months for carrying out illegal gas repairs and leaving electric work in a state that posed a risk of death.

John Howe, who traded as J Howe Plumbing and Construction, was contracted to build a granny flat at the rear of a house in Bradford, which was owned by Mr Khalid Rehman.

Howe started work at the property in May 2009 but he consistently failed to turn up to finish the job. In June 2010, Mr Rehman called in another builder to give an estimate of how much it would cost to finish the work. During his visit, the builder noticed that pipework leading from a boiler had not been properly secured and that the electrics in the new building had not been earthed.

Mr Rehman notified Bradford Metropolitan District Council, which sent out a building control surveyor to inspect the property. Following the visit, the council notified the HSE that it believed the electrical and gas work presented an immediate risk.

The HSE’s investigation found that Howe had carried out the gas work despite not being a Gas Safe registered engineer. The boiler and pipes were not installed adequately and the pipes had not been covered, leaving them exposed to the threat of corrosion.

HSE inspector Andy Denison told SHP that the electrics in the granny flat had not been earthed and put the occupants at immediate risk. He also revealed that Howe had failed to cooperate with the investigation and had not responded to any of the HSE’s attempts to contact him.

Inspector Denison said: “Mr Howe selfishly chose to put a future resident of this property in danger, and it could very easily have ended in tragedy. It is fortunate that his incompetent work was discovered by another builder, and reported. €

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