Exposing the Cowboy Plumber
Rick Goldthorpe, a 34-year-old plumber previously exposed on BBC’s Watchdog, has managed to avoid jail for the second time despite a notorious track record of shoddy gas boiler installations that brought misery to homeowners across the UK in 2019.
History of Deception and Misery
Goldthorpe gained notoriety when he used a fake Gas Safe registered engineer T-shirt to deceive homeowners, leading to a string of botched installations.
One such installation resulted in carbon monoxide fumes polluting a woman’s home, exposing the dangers of his fraudulent practices.
A Pattern of Repeat Offenses
Despite being sentenced to 16 months in jail in 2020 for safety offenses under the Health and Safety at Work Act, Goldthorpe resurfaced as a repeat offender.
Years later, he faced Health and Safety investigators again after a dissatisfied homeowner checked his credentials on Google.
Latest Offense and Investigation
Goldthorpe’s latest victim, Jeanette Glenroyd, uncovered his criminal history through a Google search after being unhappy with his work on her property in Sandbach, Cheshire. This prompted another investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in the spring of 2022.
Suspended Sentence and Concerns
This week, Goldthorpe faced sentencing at Chester magistrates court, where he admitted three offenses under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Surprisingly, the 32-week prison term was suspended for 12 months after his latest work was inspected and found to be ‘satisfactory.’ Concerns arise about the effectiveness of punitive measures and industry oversight.
History of Breaches and Cost-Cutting
Goldthorpe’s history includes breaching regulations and being featured on BBC’s Rogue Traders. The recent breach, involving the installation of a gas boiler without proper registration, was described as a flagrant violation of the law, emphasizing the potential risks to life and property.
Mitigation and Last Chance Saloon
In Goldthorpe’s defense, his lawyer argued that he believed having an associate who was properly registered would suffice, highlighting his frustration with the certification process.
District Judge Jack McGarva acknowledged Goldthorpe’s satisfactory recent work but emphasized that he is in the ‘Last Chance Saloon,’ with a suspended sentence hanging in the balance.
Judge’s Warning and Close Call
The judge warned Goldthorpe about the serious consequences of shoddy work in the gas fitting industry, highlighting the potential risks of death and substantial property damage.
While acknowledging a chance of rehabilitation, the judge emphasized the precarious nature of the decision to suspend the sentence, given Goldthorpe’s responsibilities to three children.