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Ipswich/Hadleigh: Heating engineer sentenced to community service following a string of health and safety offences

PUBLISHED: 19:35 28 July 2014 | UPDATED: 22:13 28 July 2014

Annette Coe

Annette Coe

A Suffolk heating engineer who was found guilty of a string of health and safety offences following an investigation into the death of an Ipswich woman was yesterday sentenced to 300 hours’ community service.

At an earlier trial, Peter Sykes, of Castle Road in Hadleigh, had been cleared of manslaughter by gross negligence but was found guilty of five health and safety failings relating to work he carried out for Annette Coe and other customers.

Mrs Coe, 72, the mother of William Coe who runs Coes stores in Suffolk and Essex, was found collapsed at her home in St Edmunds Road on December 5, 2012. She died in hospital the following day.

The court heard that an investigation found Sykes, 68, had failed to service and repair the heating system at Mrs Coe’s home, which resulted in poisonous carbon monoxide building up in her home.

Following the sentencing at Norwich Crown Court yesterday, tributes were paid to Mrs Coe by her family, who described her as an “amazing lady”.

A family statement read: “The last 18 months have been very difficult and we are now glad this hurdle has been cleared and we can move forward.

“Our mother was an amazing lady. We all miss her terribly but we can at least now try to put the tragic events of her death behind us so we can focus on the future and share all the great memories of our wonderful mum/grandma.”

Speaking after the sentencing, Detective Inspector Trevor Prior of Suffolk police said: “We conducted a meticulous investigation with the Health and Safety Executive following the tragic death of Mrs Coe.

“This established that her death was due to deadly carbon monoxide, which was allowed to build up in her home as a direct result of Sykes’ failure to maintain her heating system.

“This case sends a clear message that the police can and will work closely and effectively with other agencies to bring offenders to justice.”

HSE Principal Inspector Vicky Fletcher added: “Working on gas appliances is difficult, specialised and potentially very dangerous. It is therefore vital that only registered gas engineers, who are trained and competent, work on gas appliances and fittings.

“HSE will not hesitate to prosecute those who break the law in this way.”

Paul Rose from the Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC) said: “Had this installation been properly maintained, the sad death of Mrs Coe could have been avoided.”

Russell Kramer, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, also called on all customers to check their engineer’s ID card and that they are qualified.

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