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Semi-retired Higherford engineer hit with £5,000 legal bill
9:00pm Thursday 5th December 2013 in News
A SEMI-retired engineer who put more than 700 potentially dangerous LPG adapters on the market has been left with a £5,000 legal bill.
Alan Middleton was ‘very foolish’ in offering adapters, allowing motorists to fill containers with the fuel at service stations, for sale via eBay, despite warnings from Lancashire trading standards, Preston Crown Court heard.
Middleton, 60, of Barnoldswick Road, Higherford, had admitted designing an unsafe product, not providing adequate instructions for the adapter’s use and not including markings identifying himself as the manufacturer, and was committed for crown court sentence by Preston magistrates.
He was fined £2,500, and ordered to pay the county council’s costs of £2,500, alongside a £15 victim surcharge.
Passing sentence, Judge Anthony Russell QC, Recorder of Preston, said Middleton had been ‘very foolish to put these on the market without checking the regulations and you should have had the items independently tested’.
An earlier hearing before magistrates was told that a similar adapter, not linked to Middleton, had caused a gas fire at a Rossendale service station, resulting in a man suffering severe burns.
Speaking after the case, Coun Janice Hanson, the county’s public protection cabinet member, said: “What Alan Middleton was doing could have potentially exposed his customers to extremely serious risk of injury or even death.
"His hand-tighten LPG propane gas bottle filling adaptor was apparently designed to allow consumers to refill portable gas bottles, such as Calorgas bottles, at any fuel station with an LPG pump. This is extremely dangerous and should never happen.
"It beggars belief that Mr Middleton could have sold such an unsafe product. Records show that even before 2009, trading standards had advised Mr Middleton about safety concerns.
“Despite receiving advice from trading standards officers, he continued to sell his dangerous LPG adapters.”
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