A builder whose work on his elderly neighbours’ home contributed to their deaths from carbon monoxide poisoning has failed to persuade the Court of Appeal that his £75,000 fine was excessive. The court ruled that a substantial fine was necessary to underline the gravity of such offences.
Mohammed Jamil had been contracted to carry out work on the garage roof at the home of Donald and Rosetta O’Sullivan. In performing the task, he partially enclosed the flue of a gas boiler leaving it in an unsafe condition. That, combined with loose screws in the boiler itself and a faulty metal flue lining, led to lethal gasses feeding back into the couple’s home. The bodies of Mr and Mrs O’Sullivan, who were aged in their seventies, were found at their home in April 2009.
Jamil pleaded guilty to breaching gas safety regulations at the Old Bailey in July 2012 and was fined £75,000 and ordered to pay £25,452 in costs. He was also sentenced to a 12-month community order with 150 hours of unpaid work.
Challenging the amount of the fine on appeal, Jamil’s lawyers described him as a ‘reasonable, decent, hard-working family man, not a cowboy.’ He had been very fond of Mr and Mrs O’Sullivan, ‘looking on them almost as parents’, and ‘their deaths weighed very heavily upon him.’
Dismissing the appeal, however, Mr Justice Field, said: ‘Three things combined to cause the fatal build-up of carbon monoxide – two of them were not Mr Jamil’s fault. However, the fine had to be large to ensure that it had a real impact on him and brought home the need to take great care in future.’