An ‘amateur’ private landlord who was hit with a suspended jail term and swingeing financial penalties after she failed to maintain the gas boiler in a house where a man died of carbon monoxide poisoning has failed to convince the Court of Appeal that she was too harshly punished.
The woman had failed to arrange regular servicing and repair of the 30-year-old boiler and was thus unaware that it was in a potentially lethal condition. As a result, her tenant died of asphyxiation whilst sleeping on a sofa and his partner only narrowly survived.
The landlord subsequently admitted breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 and was handed a 16-month suspended jail term. She was also ordered to perform 200 hours of unpaid work and received a £4,000 fine and a £17,500 prosecution costs bill.
She argued that the suspended sentence was too severe and that she might have to sell her home to meet the ‘excessive’ financial penalties. However, in dismissing her appeal, the Court found that, although she was unaware of the boiler’s dangerous condition, she had ‘shut her eyes to her wider responsibilities’.
The sentences imposed were ‘humane and moderate’ and she would have been much more severely punished had there been an ‘element of blatant disregard’ on her part. The amount of the prosecution costs bill had been reduced by the sentencing judge and she had been given additional time to pay.