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Suspended sentence for plumber that blew up the house

28 May 13 A Lincolnshire plumber has been prosecuted for carrying out illegal gas work after a couple suffered severe burns in an explosion that blew out the windows of their home.

Daniel George Hickling, trading as DGH Plumbing & Heating, was hired by the couple to reduce the height of two redundant LPG gas pipes in an old kitchen that was being converted into a living room at their Nettleton home.

After he left the property on 21 July 2011 the homeowners realised the gas supply hadn’t been switched back on so one of them went to the LPG tank in the garden and reset the valve to restore the supply. A short while later the couple smelled gas and went to investigate. Before they could find the source of the leak, it had ignited, blowing out nearly all the ground floor windows. It was so bad that two walls of the property had to be supported to prevent them from collapsing. It was a year before the couple could move back in.

A Health & Safety Executive (HSE) investigation found that Mr Hickling had never been registered with Gas Safe and was not qualified or competent to carry out the work. It is believed he damaged one of the pipes while excavating part of the floor around the pipe, puncturing a hole in it.

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At Lincoln Crown Court last week (24 May 2013) Daniel George Hickling, 39, of Main Street, Howsham, Lincolnshire, admitted breaching Regulations 3(1), 3(3) and 5(3) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998. He was given an 11-month prison sentence suspended for two years and ordered to carry out 300 hours of unpaid work and pay costs of £2,000.

Speaking after the hearing HSE inspector David Butter said: "Anybody who carries out work on gas pipes or appliances without being on the Gas Safe Register is breaking the law. Daniel Hickling endangered the lives of this couple as soon as he began work. They are extremely lucky to have survived.

"It is essential that homeowners and businesses check gas installers are registered with Gas Safe before having work carried out to ensure the job is completed to the required safe standard.”

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