Builder guilty of installing life-threatening wood burners

Luton Crown Court
Luton Crown Court

A builder who risked the lives of his customers by installing faulty wood burning stoves, has received a suspended jail sentence.

Robert Scott was investigated by Bedford Borough Council after he installed faulty wood burning stoves and issued fraudulent safety certificates.

By doing so, he risked the lives of people where he fitted fireplaces and multi-fuel burning stoves, and in one instance the fire service was called when the house filled with smoke.

Scott, previously of New Road, Drayton Parslow, Milton Keynes, a sole trader, trading as JRS Builders and Fire Installations claimed to be registered. He displayed the HETAS logo on his website fraudulently and issued a HETAS Certificate to a customer which he had stolen.

Complaints were initially received by Bedford Borough Council’s Environmental Health and Trading Standards service, in November 2013, from consumers within Bedford Borough. Investigations found more consumers had found faults with their wood burning stove installation, and had to have costly work done by reputable traders to rectify the fault.

It was also established Scott had been removed from the Hetas scheme prior to carrying out many of these jobs and was therefore not permitted under Building Regulations to certify that the work had been carried out in accordance with these requirements.

This is in breach of the Fraud Act 2006 and the Consumer Protection from unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (CPUTS).

Mr Scott failed to attend the first hearing in November 2014 and a warrant for his arrest was issued. After his arrest in February 2015, he was bailed and appeared at Bedford Magistrates Court on April 29, and was bailed until May 27, when he again failed to appear and a new warrant was issued.

As a result of investigative work carried out by Trading Standards Officers, Bedfordshire Police were able to trace Mr Scott’s location resulting in his subsequent arrest on October 19, 2015, when he pleaded guilty to a Bail Act offence.

Mr Scott pleaded guilty to fraud charges of fraud and seven charges under CPUTS at Luton Crown Court.

He was handed a custodial sentence of 10 months which is suspended for 18 months on the following conditions:

1. The Defendant commits no further offences within 18 months

2. He makes regular contact with the Probation Service

3. He undertakes 200 hours of unpaid work over the next 12 months

Cllr Colleen Atkins, Portfolio Holder for Community Safety and Regulatory Services at Bedford Borough Council said: “Let this be a warning to any tradesmen who put customers at risk; they cannot get away with carrying out faulty work and not abiding by the law.

“If anyone feels they may have been approached by, or had work done by, a tradesperson who isn’t who they make out to be, please contact the Council’s Trading Standards.”