Suspended sentence for dangerous gas boiler work


There are all too many cases being reported of faulty and/or illegal gas installations or repair jobs. It is rare for any to be so serious as to warrant a jail sentence for the miscreant, albeit a suspended one (plus community service). Yet this is such a case.

This is no doubt due to the fact that it was so blatant, coupled with the fact that the offender had been reported previously for the same sort of unregistered work.

The man in question is 49-year old Keith Vickerstaff, a self-employed builder from Suffolk, who has no right to carry out any gas work: he is not, nor has ever been CORGI or Gas Safe registered.

Induced owners to pay a huge deposit

On 11th October 2012 he illegally removed a gas boiler. He had taken a substantial four-figure deposit from the owner of the house concerned, for the purpose of installing full central heating. Having taken out the boiler he left the supply pipe open, without capping it. This was of course extremely dangerous for the occupants.

Vickerstaff then abandoned the job, despite having taken money in advance, and a Gas Safe engineer was called in by the householders, and he declared it “immediately dangerous”.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigated the individual and found that he is unqualified to install, repair or remove any gas appliances because he is not registered by Gas Safe.

Repeat offender

Furthermore, he had ‘form’ for this because he was reported for much the same offence in 2007 to CORGI, which was responsible for the registration of gas fitters before Gas Safe.

As a result, at Ipswich Crown Court he was sentenced to six months’ in prison, although it was suspended for 18 months. He has to carry out 180 hours of unpaid community work.

The laws that he breached were:

  • Regulation 3(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998
  • Section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974

As HSE commented in relation to the case, it was sheer luck that nobody was injured as a result of this shoddy and illegal work. The man endangered householders – and their neighbours – putting them at great risk of being injured and possibly killed. A fire or an explosion were real possibiliites.

It is worth passing on the comments of Russell Kramer, Gas Safe Register’s Chief Executive, to anyone who is tempted to use a jobbing builder for gas work:

Every Gas Safe registered engineer carries a Gas Safe ID card, which shows who they are and the type of gas appliances they are qualified to work on. We always encourage the public to ask for and check the card and if they have any concerns about the safety of work carried out in their home, to speak to us. Every year we investigate thousands of reports of illegal gas work. Call us on 0800 408 5500 or visit our website at

McCormack Benson Health & Safety, as a responsible building safety consultancy, endorses the work of Gas Safe and will always seek to ensure that its construction clients use registered, trained subcontractors for this and all other specialist work.