Wednesday 26 September 2018

Man fined €7k for dodgy gas meter at house in Dublin

Gas Networks Ireland (GNI)
Gas Networks Ireland (GNI)
Jennifer Murphy, Rowlagh Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after she appeared before the Dublin District Court. Pic: Collins Courts

Tom Tuite

A Dublin man has been fined €7,000 for having a dodgy gas meter at his home.

Kevin Doyle, with an address at Cashel Avenue, Crumlin, Dublin 12, was prosecuted by Gas Networks Ireland.

He did not appear at Dublin District Court on Tuesday for his hearing which proceeded in his absence.

He was convicted by Judge John Brennan on three charges under the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act for dishonestly causing gas to be diverted, unlawfully interference with an authorised meter and failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the unlawful interference with the meter was discontinued.

John Young, an authorised officer with Gas Networks Ireland, told the court that he attended Mr Doyle’s house on a date last year. The registered meter had been installed in 2004, he said.

However, he said the meter had been decommissioned but gas was still passing through it and a sharp object had been forced into the device. This had been done without permission of Gas Networks Ireland, he said.

Jennifer Murphy, Rowlagh Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after she appeared before the Dublin District Court. Pic: Collins Courts
Jennifer Murphy, Rowlagh Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin pictured leaving the Four Courts after she appeared before the Dublin District Court. Pic: Collins Courts

The accused had no previous convictions, the court was told.

Prosecution solicitor Adrian Lennon said the maximum fine was €5,000 per charge and a six month sentence could also be imposed.

Judge Brennan imposed fines totalling €7,000 along with €750 in prosecution costs, which must be paid within six months.

Gas Networks Ireland owns, operates and maintains the Irish natural gas network connecting more than 670,000 homes and businesses.

In a second prosecution before the same court on Tuesday, Jennifer Murphy, from Rowlagh Crescent, Clondalkin, Dublin was given a chance to avoid a conviction and a sentence.

She pleaded guilty to dishonestly causing gas to be diverted, unlawfully interference with an authorised meter and failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the unlawful interference with the meter was discontinued.

The court heard that the gas network inspector visited her home on June 14 last and found that the meter had been replaced with another one which had been stolen from a house in Lucan, Co. Dublin. It had also been interfered with and the value of gas that had passed through it was unknown.

Pleading for leniency her barrister asked the judge to note that Ms Murphy was an unemployed mother and wanted to become a driving instructor. She had no previous convictions, her barrister said.

Counsel said Ms Murphy’s ex-partner had been living with her at the time and it was her belief that the meter may have been changed at that point.

Prosecution solicitor Adrian Lennon asked the court to note that there was “still another meter adrift” and that created a public risk. Judge John Brennan said it was clearly a very serious mater; there was a health and safety issue and the use of the stolen meter was of grave importance.

He took into account her good record, circumstances and her explanation and said she would be spared a conviction if she donated €500 to the Focus Ireland charity which provides assistance to people affected by homelessness. The case was adjourned until a date in May and the judge warned her she would be convicted, fined €1,000 and ordered to pay costs if the money had not been donated before the next hearing.

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