News Courts

Sunday 22 September 2019

'Wholly uncooperative' tradesman fined €10k for potentially 'catastrophic' gas installation at house in Dublin

llegal gas fitters were not just costing money but also putting people's lives and homes at risk
llegal gas fitters were not just costing money but also putting people's lives and homes at risk

Tom Tuite

A “wholly uncooperative” tradesman, who had to be served with a court summons via text message, has been fined €10,000 for potentially “catastrophic” gas installation work at a house in Dublin.

Dublin District Court heard that self-employed Shane Manning, formerly of The Grove, Woodbrook Glen, Bray, Co. Wicklow, had not assisted the Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) when it investigated his work which could have had “catastrophic consequences” at a residential property in Clonsilla in June and July in 2016.

Judge John Brennan was told an inspector from CRU (formerly known as the Commission for Energy Regulation) had been unable to serve a summons on the unregistered gas fitter using normal methods.

He faced three charges under the Energy Act for unlawfully carrying out works while he was not a registered gas installer.

The CRU official had been eventually granted permission by the court for “substitute service” of the summons via a text message which included an attached photo of the original document. However, Mr Manning did not appear for the hearing of the case on Monday.

Numerous attempts had previously been made to serve him by registered post at his last known address but they had not proved possible, prosecuting solicitor Shane Reynolds told the court.

The case had its first court listing on January 29 but the accused did not appear and the case was adjourned until today when it went ahead in his absence.

Keith Walsh, a CRU gas safety officer, agreed with the prosecuting solicitor that he had made a number of attempts to contact Manning during the investigation. Later permission had been granted to serve him by phone text message with an attached photo of the original summons.

He said the case related to gas installation works carried out on June 7 and July 15 in 2016 when an extension was being built at a house in Willow Woods, Clonsilla.

The home-owner had hired a building firm which subcontracted out some of the job to another firm which in turn subcontracted work out to Manning who relocated and installed a gas boiler.

The court heard that he had been previously registered as a gas installer until February 2014.

Invoices from him were furnished to the judge as well as records of emails and text messages between him and the builder which contained references to the gas works he had carried out.

The court heard there had been a problem with the flue installed which was not of the right standard and could have led to carbon monoxide re-entering the room. The owner was described in court as being in a “vulnerable situation”, in reference to their medical condition.

The owner withheld €18,000 from the main contractor because Manning had not provided a certificate for the gas work, the court was told. The certificate was required to be filled out by the gas installer, Judge John Brennan also heard.

Mr Walsh agreed that over the period of a year the accused “wholly uncooperative”.

Each charge carried Class-A fine of up to €5,000.

Judge Brennan noted the inconvenience for the builder who had subcontracted the gas work but he said the health and safety issues were the primary concern and the work could have led to “catastrophic consequences”.

He also noted that the accused did not turn up to court and accepted he had been wholly uncooperative with the investigation.

He said that there were mitigating factors – his lack of previous convictions and the fact he had been previously qualified – but he added that this was minor mitigation.

He imposed fines totalling €10,000 to be paid to CRU within six months along with €1,500 in prosecution cost.

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