A trader who fitted an unsafe shower which a family used for weeks has been ordered to pay more than £3,000.
Paul Frame, 37, from Thornbank Close in Hall Farm, installed an electric shower at the family home in West Rainton, which was subsequently found to be unsafe and to contravene wiring
Frame was prosecuted by Durham County Council and has now been ordered to pay £3,261.20.
Newton Aycliffe Magistrates' Court heard how the council’s trading standards team received a complaint from a resident in July last year in relation to the shower fitted by Frame, the sole director of HLS Home Improvements Limited.
The complainant said she had agreed to pay Frame, who lives at Thornbank Close, £2,761.20 for a bathroom installation which included an electric shower.
However when the bathroom was fitted it was found that the shower installed was not the one the woman had ordered.
The defendant told her to use it until the correct one could be sourced.
The woman, her husband and children used the shower until it was replaced with the correct one in the June.
The complainant was not given an instruction manual for either of the showers and was not given any paperwork relating to the installation.
After the shower flooded and Frame failed to repair it, the woman had a plumber look at it.
He advised it was not safe and suggested an electrician inspect it.
An electrician did so and condemned the shower, agreeing it was unsafe and should not be used.
These findings were endorsed by a council electrician who further found the installation to be substandard, in contravention of the British Standards Wiring Regulations in a number
of ways and not to comply with the manufacturers’ installation instructions.
A further inspection was carried out to satisfy requirements of the council’s building control team.
The electrician tasked with doing so found the shower circuit was unsatisfactory for a number of reasons and therefore could not certify it for use.
The court was read a victim statement from the woman in which she said she felt “distraught” when the shower was condemned.
Her statement added: “I feel that I have been let down by HLS Home Improvements and find it difficult to comprehend that they have placed the safety of my family at risk…
“I had been allowing my children to use the shower for weeks and the thought that each time they did, their safety was at risk upsets me greatly.
The complainant spoke of the “huge financial burden” of having to replace the unsafe equipment which left them unable to shower.
Frame was charged by the council with supplying an unsafe shower unit and contravening the requirements of professional diligence.
He pleaded guilty to both offences, with the court hearing he is of previous good character.
Magistrates were told they were the result of an administrative error in ordering the wrong shower which then snowballed.
Frame was ordered to pay compensation to the family of £2,761.20, a £350 fine and £150 costs.
Joanne Waller, the council’s head of environment, health and consumer protection, said:“Traders have a legal and moral duty to ensure everything they are supplying to those
paying them is as the consumer is expecting and most important of all – safe.
“In this case, a shower was fitted which had been believed to be safe.
“It later transpired that a family including children had been using it for some time not
knowing it was unsafe.
“This kind of commercial practice is unacceptable and this prosecution and the financial penalty imposed should send out a message that it will not be tolerated in County Durham.”