Builder fined after 'being led down garden path' over asbestos job

A man remains in a serious condition after a cardiac arrest following fall over the weekend. Picture

Ballygate, in Beccles. - Credit: Google Maps

A retired builder who breached health and safety regulations when he removed asbestos from a rental property in Suffolk has been fined and ordered to pay costs of £6,000.

James Borrett took the word of the owner of the property about the type of asbestos in the garage roof and failed to make his own enquiries about what he was dealing with before embarking on the work, Ipswich Crown Court heard.

The 68-year-old, of Edinburgh Avenue, Gorleston, admitted failing to prevent or reduce to the lowest level the spread of asbestos from a workplace and failing to hold a licence to remove asbestos.

He was fined £2,000 and ordered to pay costs of £4,000.

Richard Beynon, prosecuting, said the property in Ballygate, Beccles was one of four owned by a 77-year-old woman.

She had initially faced prosecution but had the case against her dropped because of her personal circumstances.

Prior to a couple, with a two year old son, moving into the property in 2017, an electricity company had refused to do work on a meter in the garage because of suspicions about the presence of asbestos.

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A company was hired to investigate the presence of asbestos and found harmful “brown” asbestos in a sample taken from the garage roof.

The owner was quoted between £1,745 to £4,000 to deal with the asbestos, before hiring Borrett, who had done work for her in the past, to do the job for £200.

Mr Beynon said Borrett didn’t have a licence to do the work and as a result of the way the work was carried out materials containing asbestos were spread around the garage.

Ian Bridge, mitigating, said Borrett was assured by the owner of the property that the roof sheets contained a less dangerous material which didn’t require licensed experts to remove it.

He described Borrett as “a decent chap” who rather than being out to “make a fast buck ” had actually charged less for the work because he finished it faster than expected.

He accepted Borrett shouldn’t have taken the word of the owner of the property about the material in the roof and said he’d been “led down the garden path by her” and left to face the consequences.

“If she’d been honest with him he wouldn’t be here,” said Mr Bridge.