Truro Crown Court heard how Mark Reski, trading as MR Roofing & Leadwork, was contracted in March 2019 to remove and rebuild a chimney stack from the roof of a property in Fowey.
The chimney stack was shared between the client’s and a neighbouring property, occupied by an elderly woman. In removing the chimney stack, Mr Reski exposed the flue liner for the gas range in the elderly woman’s kitchen. He left the flue liner unsupported, dangling at an angle and exposed to the elements.
The court heard that a flue liner left in this condition would not function correctly, and created a high risk of carbon monoxide – and other combustion products – entering the home.
The flue liner was left in this dangerous state for seven days and was only discovered when a carbon monoxide alarm sounded in the elderly woman’s home. When the fire service came, their carbon monoxide alarms also sounded, so they ventilated the property and made it safe by isolating the gas supply. A Gas Safe registered installer tested the gas range flue and found it to be spilling dangerous levels of carbon monoxide. He classed the situation as ‘immediately dangerous’.
An investigation by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) found that Mr Reski had failed to make any proper enquiries into what gas appliances were fluing through the chimney he was working on.
Mark Reski of Lockengate, Bugle, Cornwall pleaded guilty to breaching Regulation 8(1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for 24 months, fined £5,000 and ordered to pay costs of £3,000.
HSE inspector Simon Jones said after the hearing: “It should have been obvious to Mr Reski, an experienced roofer, that the chimney that he was working on was fluing a gas appliance when he exposed the flue liner.
“Mr Reski made no enquiries whatsoever as to what was fluing through the chimney and his actions put an elderly and vulnerable woman’s life in serious danger. It is only by good fortune that she heard an alarm sounding and called for help and so did not suffer potentially fatal carbon monoxide poisoning.”