Carbon monoxide death after botched chimney work blocked gas flue leads to three-and-half-year jail term

A builder has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for manslaughter after his botched workmanship while rebuilding a chimney led to a man's death by blocking a gas flue.

David Paul Johnson, 56, who traded as Merlin Building & Roofing Contractors in Whittlesey, allowed mortar to drop into the chimney he was working on. It then solidified, blocking a gas boiler flue so that carbon monoxide was released inside the kitchen of Robert Schenker.

Schenker was found dead in bed from carbon monoxide poisoning in March 2006, three days after Johnson started work.

Johnson, of Ipswich, was jailed yesterday at Norwich Crown Court after being convicted last month of gross negligence manslaughter and of breaching section 3(2) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

Johnson was prosecuted following a joint investigation by police and health and safety inspectors.

Detective inspector Mick Birchall said: “We hope this result will serve as a warning to other construction workers to make sure they comply with all health and safety regulations.”

The UK Health and Safety Executive said that Johnson had shown an appalling lack of basic health and safety procedures that could have prevented the tragic death of Schenker.

It has warned that any other customers of Johnson should get work rechecked.