A Derbyshire heating engineer has narrowly avoided jail after falsely advertising that his business was registered with the industry's professional body.
Liam Golden, 34, trading as LG Heating, of South Normanton, falsely claimed to customers that he was registered with the Heating Equipment Testing and Approval Scheme (HETAS), using its logo on his website and business cards.
Although he had applied to register with HETAS and was initially approved and registered, Golden failed to make any payments after the initial deposit.
HETAS contacted Golden via email and telephone and then by letter to tell him his account was suspended until payment was received.
Further attempts were made to contact him and remind him his account was suspended, and in July 2017 Golden was told his HETAS membership had been cancelled and he was not to use the logo as he was not registered.
In February last year Derbyshire County Council’s trading standards team wrote to Golden to advise him he should remove any reference to being registered with HETAS from his website.
Despite numerous warnings, Golden continued to claim to be HETAS registered to four customers who had contacted him to install log burners, and continued to use the logo on his website and business cards.
He was then prosecuted by the council's trading standards team.
Golden pleaded guilty to four charges under The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 at South Derbyshire Magistrates Court in March. Of the four charges, two were for claiming to be HETAS registered or approved when he was not, and two were for using the HETAS logo without authorisation.
The court heard that as well as the four offences, the work Golden had carried out had been of a poor standard, and in some instances was unsafe, leading to repair work needing to be carried out.
At Derby Crown Court on Thursday, April 4, Judge Nirmal Shant QC sentenced Golden to six months imprisonment suspended for two years, 75 hours unpaid work and eight rehabilitation activity days.
Derbyshire County Council Cabinet Member for Health and Communities Councillor Carol Hart said: “Offences like these are serious as they lead the public to believe and trust they are getting an industry-certified professional who meets all the necessary safety standards.
“In this case, numerous warnings were given and ignored, with customers putting their trust in this person because of his false claims.
“These regulations are in place to protect people from substandard or dangerous work by unregistered engineers and we will not tolerate tradespeople deliberately flouting them.
“If people believe a trader is breaking the law in this way, they should always alert our trading standards team.”
A future Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will determine if Golden has funds or assets to pay compensation to the victims or costs to the county council.