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Landlord sentenced to home detention after gas fire death

Landlord sentenced to home detention after gas fire death

A landlord who illegally installed a gas cooker resulting in a fire that killed a 19-year-old woman has today been sentenced to six months home detention and ordered to pay reparations of $5,000.

Lesley Wehi-Jack rented a Ruakaka house from Peter McLeod in February 2013. Before she moved in Mr McLeod had personally installed a gas cooker – work that by law has to be done by a licenced gasfitter.

The connection to the cooker leaked gas, and when Ms Wehi-Jack returned to the house on Waitangi Day last year and turned on an electrical switch the gas exploded and engulfed the house in fire. She later died from the burns she suffered.

Mr McLeod pleaded guilty of failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that the cooker was installed safely. He was sentenced today at the Whangarei District Court.

Energy Safety manager, Mark Wogan, says Lesley Wehi-Jack’s death was completely avoidable and a tragic waste of a young life.

“When Lesley rented the house she had every right to assume that it was safe to live in. If Mr McLeod had followed the law and got a qualified gasfitter in to install the cooker she would probably still be alive today. It is that simple.

“Peter McLeod is a registered drainlayer. He knew that the work should have been done by a gasfitter. He must now live with the consequences of his actions, as sadly must Ms Wehi-Jack’s family.

“Energy Safety urges all landlords and property owners to ensure gas and electrical installations and appliances are safe. Check that the products you buy are safe and always use a competent and licenced person to install, check and maintain them.

“Property owners should regularly check the safety of gas and electrical installations and appliances in property they rent out, particularly between lets.

“The consequences of risk-taking with gas and electricity can be catastrophic. Doing the work yourself, or on the cheap, is simply not worth it,” says Mark Wogan.

[Ends]

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