Campsite owner sentenced for gas safety breach


The owner of a North Somerset campsite has received a suspended prison sentence after a visitor to the site suffered carbon monoxide poisoning.

Stephen Paul Longden, 47, the owner of Mendip View Camping, Kingdown Lane, Winford, pleaded guilty to an offence under Health and Safety legislation that prohibits installation of gas appliances by anyone who is not a registered GasSafe installer.

He was sentenced to six months imprisonment, suspended for 18 months, together with 200 hours of unpaid work. He was also ordered to pay £6,550 costs to North Somerset Council.

The council’s Food and Safety team investigated the incident following reports a visitor to the campsite had suffered serious carbon monoxide poisoning. They discovered that the gas water heater on his premises had been incorrectly fitted by the owner.

Mr Longden, who attended Weston Magistrate Court on 16 October, admitted to fitting a gas water heater in a shower block which resulted in a member of the public suffering severe carbon monoxide poisoning to the point of near death.

The court heard that following the incident the injured man had thoughts of killing himself and that he did not feel grateful to have survived. He suffers from anxiety attacks and has mood swings which affect both himself and his family.

The victim had been told that the poisoning may have killed brain cells and the long terms effects may take three or four years to develop. In addition, due to his anxiety, he has had to change his working pattern and so is losing almost half his wages.

Judge Taylor, sentencing, said that the defendant had shown “wilful blindness to the risk, in that he had been aware of the risk and nevertheless taken that risk.”

He added that he was “persuaded that Mr Longden was genuinely remorseful for the incident” but advised him that “he would have to live with the knowledge for the rest of his life of the harm he had done to an entirely innocent man.”

Jane Day, the Food and Safety Service Manager at North Somerset Council said: “The risks taken by Mr Longden could have resulted in the death or injury of any user of his facilities. This level of wilful disregard for the safety of others left this authority will no option but to pursue a prosecution. Sadly, the injured party may not know the full extent of his injuries for some while.”