A West Australian plumber who was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he installed dangerous gas fittings has apologised for his potentially deadly actions.
Jason Wayne Walker failed to ensure gas fittings complied with regulations and were gas-tight at two Bunbury properties and a Donnybrook house in June 2013.
Walker pleaded guilty to 13 offences, telling Bunbury Magistrates Court he was bingeing on drugs and alcohol at the time.
"I didn't know what I was doing half the time, I was too out of it," he told the court.
Although each of the offences carried a fine of up $50,000, Magistrate Dianne Scaddan said Walker would be fined $4,600 because he had undertaken six months of alcohol and drug rehabilitation, and had already been penalised by the State Administrative Tribunal.
The court heard Walker did not pressure-test pipes when he installed hot water systems, which caused them to spilt - resulting in gas leaking into homes.
State prosecutor Jasmine Rhodes said the familyat one Bunbury property only realised something was wrong when they smelt gas later in the evening.
She also said Walker fitted a stovetop in a Donnybrook home with LPG gas instead of natural gas as the label "clearly" indicated.
LPG gas has twice the energy of natural gas and posed a significant risk to the homeowners, the court was told.
Walker also left pipes open to corrosion, fitted systems with parts missing and located hot water systems next to other items that were potentially explosive.
In a report to the court, an independent auditor who inspected the properties said it was the worst gas fitting he had seen in 20 years.
Walker was a registered gas fitter and said had been a practising plumber for 13 years.Plumber blamed substance addiction, marriage breakdown
Walker blamed his marriage breakdown and substance addiction for his actions, and said he had written to clients and apologised.
Ms Scaddan told Walker the offences were serious.
"You severely dropped your standards, the defects were serious and posed a high risk of injury to the public," she said.
"It was reckless, dangerous to the community and not a one-off incident.
"Despite wanting to send a message of deterrence to the public and at the risk of appearing lenient, I believe a fine of that magnitude would be counterproductive your recovery."Investigation triggered by customers complaints
The Plumbers Licensing Board commenced an investigation into Walker in August 2013 after a number of complaints were made to the Building Commission and Consumer Protection.
During mediation held in March, Walker also admitted to threatening or intimidating clients into paying for work he did not carry out at a number of sites between January and June last year.
WA Building Commissioner Peter Gow issued a public warning about Walker in September last year after receiving a raft of complaints from elderly and vulnerable people about his work, advising consumers "to take great care" when dealing with him.
"Common complaints against Walker include that he overcharged for work, made threatening and aggressive demands for cash payments, charged an inflated call-out fee or cost to carry out plumbing work and falsely implied he was employed by Aqwest to carry out routine testing and repairs," Mr Gow said at the time.
"In some cases it was claimed Walker had damaged property, causing the need for rectification work and had taken payment for work he has never returned to carry out or for materials he has not supplied."
The State Administrative Tribunal charged him $3,500 and suspended his plumbing licence until October 2015.
However, he will be able to work while supervised by other licensed plumbers.
In June this year Walker was charged with stealing two charity tins from a Bunbury shopping centre and was given a good behaviour bond by Bunbury Magistrates Court.