Gas explosion – builder acquitted because the HSE could not prove that he had left a gas pipe uncapped
On the 17 November at Salisbury Magistrates’ Court, Roderick Standing was acquitted following a trial. The Health & Safety Executive prosecuted Mr Standing, a senior manager at Longwood Building Ltd (dissolved) which was contracted by Prestige EA Ltd to carry out construction work.
The Court heard that a newly refurbished flat was destroyed in a gas explosion which left the occupier with 87% burns to his body. A gas pipe was sawn-off in the flat, during renovation work, allowing gas to build up.
Following a trial, Mr Standing was found not guilty of breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 as it could not be established that it was his work that had left the gas pipe uncapped.
To obtain a conviction, the prosecution must prove beyond all reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offence. Here, Mr Standing said ‘We did no work on the old heating system apart from the boiler and radiators which were already disconnected.’ The Court found Mr Standing to be “an entirely honest and reliable witness” and said it “cannot be sure he did any work on the heating system”.
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