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Earl Stonham builder who put lives of family of four at risk receives suspended sentence

Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001
Ipswich Crown Court ANL-140617-141524001

An Earl Stonham builder put the lives of a family of four at serious risk when he illegally installed a gas boiler and faulty wiring in their home, a court has heard.

David Liptrott walked away from the kitchen extension project having been paid £35,000 in full but before completing it or rectifying the faults. On Tuesday Ipswich Crown Court was told that experts called in by Peter and Josephine French ordered the unsafe boiler to be switched off an condemned new wiring as posing a risk of someone being electrocuted.

Liptrott, 54, of Green Lane, pleaded guilty to two Health and Safety Act offences of failing to ensure the safety of the family and one offence of engaging in misleading commercial practice by falsely claiming to be a limited company.

Sentencing Liptrott to nine months imprisonment suspended for 15 months, Judge Rupert Overbury told Liptrott: “You were taking risks in order to maximise profit.”

Prosecuting, Jamas Hodivala said Mr and Mrs French had employed Liptrott to extend the kitchen of their home at Ringshall but ended up with the lives of themselves and their two children being put at risk. Liptrott planned to use a qualified engineer to install anew gas boiler but decided instead to do the work himself, at one stage being seen testing for leaks from pipework joints with a naked flame.

When an independent expert was called in to examine Liptrott’s work, it was found that the metal casing of the boiler had not been earthed and could have delivered a fatal electric shock.

Mr French said that completing the building work which had been abandoned by Liptrott and making good the problems he caused was estimated would cost £27,490.

Appearing for Liptrott, Charles Falk said his client had hardly worked since problems with the contract merged in late 2012 and was now in poor health and his weight had ballooned to 28 stone. Mr Falk said that while it was accepted some of the work had been sub standard, no injuries had been caused. Liptrott had planned to use sub contractors but had been let down.

Sentencing him, Judge Overbury told Liptrott: “It is sheer luck that no-one was killed as a result of your shoddy and illegal work.”

Judge Overbury ordered Liptrott to pay £27,490 compensation to Mr and Mrs French within the next 12 months. Failure to meet that deadline will result in a 15 month prison sentence. Liptrott will also pay £16,000 towards the cost of the prosecution.

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