Page last updated at 07:45 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 08:45 UK

Gas fitter trial 'stark warning'


A gas fitter has been told he faces jail after being found guilty of two counts of manslaughter over two people who died of carbon monoxide poisoning

A gas fitter's manslaughter conviction after the death of two friends from carbon monoxide poisoning is a "stark warning" to unqualified workmen.

Peter Tongue, 60, of Llanspyddid, near Brecon, has been told he faces jail.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it sent a message to engineers working outside their assessed competence or who were not registered.

Margaret Powell, 72, known as Eileen, and her friend Thomas Gwyn Morgan, 74, died in her home in Brecon, Powys.

Tongue was found guilty of two counts of manslaughter and six health and safety charges by a jury at Cardiff Crown Court on Thursday.

He had serviced a gas-fired warm air central heating system days before the couple died in 2006 after it had broken down.

While he was accredited at the time with the gas safety organisation, Corgi, his registration allowing him to work on ducted warm air systems had lapsed in 2003 - three years before the deaths.

Margaret Powell and Thomas Gwyn Morgan
Thomas Gwyn Morgan and Margaret Powell were found dead in her home

Speaking after the verdicts Hugh Emment, an inspector for the HSE, said people should check gas engineers are registered and carrying the relevant card before allowing them to carry out work in their homes.

"This tragic case demonstrates why it is important that gas engineers only work on appliances where their competence has been assessed," he said.

"Peter Tongue worked on Mrs Powell's gas central heating system but his accreditation to work on that particular system had lapsed three years previously.

"His knowledge of the system was not up to date and by carrying out this work he was acting illegally and dangerously.

"This sends out a stark message to gas engineers that working outside their assessed competence can have fatal consequences for their customers.

"This also serves as a warning to those who are doing gas work who are not on the Gas Safe register."

"All gas engineers must be Gas Safe registered and carry a card detailing the appliances they are permitted to work on.

"Householders must also not be afraid to check these details before allowing work to be carried out as properly registered engineers will be more than happy to prove their competence."

Mr Justice Lloyd Jones told Tongue, a father-of-three, a jail term was "inevitable", but released him on bail until he is sentenced on 30 July.

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