Landlord given suspended prison sentence over gas failings

A Durham landlord has been given a suspended prison sentence following his failure to maintain or check the gas fittings in one of his properties.

gas valve

A gas fire with back boiler at a tenanted property in Wilton Street, Middlesbrough, was found to be immediately dangerous when examined by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). HSE prosecuted Christopher Hobaiter after it was found that the appliance was leaking deadly carbon monoxide into the ground floor sitting room. Windows were sealed shut and wall ventilation grills had been blocked over for some time, exposing the tenant to the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Christopher Hobaiter of Lyndon Avenue, Hartburn, Stockton on Tees pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 36(2) of the Gas Safety Installation and Use Regulations 1998 and was sentenced to a 26 week prison sentence suspended for 24 months with £1904.02 costs by Teesside Magistrates Court.

After the hearing, HM Inspector of Health and Safety, Richard Bulmer commented: “Low level carbon monoxide poisoning can be severe and debilitating and almost always fatal at higher levels. “Falling asleep in the vicinity of a carbon monoxide producing gas fire is highly likely to lead to death.”

Phoenix comments:

“Every year in the UK, more than 200 people go to hospital with suspected carbon monoxide poisoning, which leads to around 50 deaths due to inadequately installed or unserviced gas appliances. After carbon monoxide is breathed in, it enters the bloodstream and mixes with haemoglobin (the part of red blood cells that carry oxygen around your body), to form carboxyhaemoglobin. When this happens, the blood is no longer able to carry oxygen, and this lack of oxygen causes the body’s cells and tissue to fail and die. Because carbon monoxide has no smell or taste, occupants can be unaware they are breathing in this dangerous gas. Landlord have a specific duty to ensure gas appliances, fittings and flues are maintained and serviced at least annually. This is such a simple activity that could save 50 lives a year. It is recommended that carbon monoxide monitors should be fitted to warn the occupant of any potential gas leaks”.