Plumber fined over house explosion

Image caption,
Craig Hall was found guilty of incorrectly installing the boiler at the couple's home

A plumber who installed a new boiler at a house that was later destroyed in a gas explosion has been fined £3,000.

Craig Hall was found guilty in December of causing the blast and destroying Robin and Marion Cunningham's home in Callander in March 2013.

The court had heard that Hall left a gas pipe liable to come loose.

The sheriff said "a person exercising reasonable care" would not have made such an error but accepted it was not an intentional offence.

Sheriff William Gilchrist said he was satisfied a financial penalty was appropriate.

Stirling Sheriff Court was told that Hall, 35, from Tullibody in Clackmannanshire, had failed to solder a vital "ring" where it attached to the new equipment.

For eight months the fitting was held together by just a little paste used to prepare the joint for connection.

But eventually it separated, pouring gas into the couple's utility room.

Image source, Danny Lawson/PA
Image caption,
Mr and Mrs Cunningham were rescued from the rubble by firefighters

At about 05:45 on 28 March 2013, the flammable atmosphere ignited "totally demolishing" the property.

Mr and Mrs Cunningham were pulled from the wreckage by firefighters.

Mr Cunningham, then 77, was taken by air ambulance to Glasgow Royal Infirmary with burns to his head, face, and both hands, and spent a full week in hospital.

Mrs Cunningham, then 74, had less serious injuries, but has been left "frail and very anxious".

Health and safety

Sheriff Gilchrist said Hall had missed one of the 20 rings he had needed to solder.

He said: "The consequences were severe because the solder ring that was missed was the gas pipe and the bungalow blew up.

"Thankfully the residents were not killed, but they could have been, and the consequences for them have been very serious."

During the trial, Hall had said that he double-checked the new system was "gas-tight", but that restricted space behind the fitting-plate of the boiler made it difficult to visually inspect his work.

The sheriff said Hall had "a good health and safety record" and no relevant previous convictions.

Hall is still working for the company who employed him at the time of the blast and was promoted two years ago to plumbing manager.