A PLUMBER whose work sparked a gas leak after he forged the signature of a registered engineer has narrowly avoided jail.

Josh Pitman, of Billericay, was hauled in front of the courts after carrying out unsafe and unregistered gas work.

During November 2016, Pitman, trading as Pitman Plumbing installed a combi boiler and pipework in one property, and relocated a boiler and associated pipework in another.

Pitman was not registered with the Gas Safe Register, and forged the signature of a registered gas engineer to complete the work, before a gas leak was detected at one of the properties.

Investigation by the Health and Safety Executive found that Pitman was not competent to work on the gas appliances and did not possess the necessary qualifications to carry out gas work.

Pitman admitted breaching two charges of the Gas Safety Regulations and was sentenced to 12 weeks custody for each offence, to be served concurrently, suspended for two years.

After the hearing, HSE inspector Adam Hills, said “Mr Pitman showed a clear disregard for the law and put his customers’ lives at risk.

“He had previously been an apprentice in the gas trade, so it is inconceivable that he did not know of the requirement for gas safe registration.

“Carrying out gas work is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. It is therefore vital that only registered gas engineers, who are trained and competent, work on gas appliances and fittings.”

Pitman, who was sentenced at Chelmsford Magistrates Court, must also carry out 160 hours of unpaid work and 10 rehabilitation days, as well as paying costs of £1,000 and £630 compensation to one of the homeowners.

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, added: “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 on 0800 408 5500.”