Monday 22nd May 2017 - Gas Networks Ireland has welcomed the verdict in a case relating to the unlawful interference with a gas meter in Coolock. Damien Bollard, with an address at Edenmore Park, Coolock, Dublin 5 was convicted of the dishonest use of gas by Judge John Brennan at a sitting of Dublin Metropolitan District Court at the Four Courts on Monday 22nd May 2017. Judge Brennan imposed a €400 fine with a period of 6 months to pay.
Paul Cleary, giving evidence on behalf of Gas Networks Ireland, outlined how Gas Networks Ireland had carried out an investigation at the terraced property in Coolock in March 2017 and found that the pre-payment meter had been interfered with in such a way as to allow gas to pass through the meter without the need to purchase credit for the meter. Mr. Cleary stressed that the interference with the gas meter presented a serious risk to the safety of Mr. Bollard’s family, neighbours, and the general public, including the potential for a gas explosion arising from the escape of gas.
Judge Brennan, having heard the evidence, stated that the offence was serious in nature and involved a substantial degree of premeditation. Judge Brennan noted that while the interference with the meter clearly resulted in a shortfall of monies owed to the gas supplier, far more serious were the safety implications arising from the interference. The Judge took a number of mitigating factors into consideration when delivering his decision.
Owen Wilson, Networks Safety Manager for Gas Networks Ireland said:
"Today’s verdict sends out an important message to the public that meter tampering is a serious crime with potentially deadly consequences. Fraud is a very serious issue, but far more serious is the risk to life that meter tampering poses to the perpetrator and to people nearby. We are working to end unlawful interference with gas meters and the dangers associated with this activity."
"Gas customers should only ever allow a Registered Gas Installer (RGI) to work on their gas boiler or gas meter. Rogue contractors can make seemingly attractive offers, but the dangers involved, in allowing someone who is not registered and qualified to do the work, are very real. Anyone who either interferes with a gas meter themselves or agrees to allow someone who is not a Registered Gas Installer to work on their gas installations is risking their own life, those of their family, and of people living nearby."
Due to the dangers involved, gas meter tampering is a criminal offence with possible fines of up to €5,000 and prison sentences of up to 6 months for those found guilty of the crime. Gas Networks Ireland has been actively engaged in identifying, and making safe, installations where tampering has been found and has detected over 2,000 cases of meter tampering across the country since 2013, with more than 1,500 of those cases detected in Dublin.
Members of the public are asked to report any suspicions of meter tampering to Gas Networks Ireland in strict confidence by calling 1850 200 694. Further information is available at www.gasnetworks.ie/metertampering.
Aimee Beale 086 151 4024 / email@example.com
Mary O’ Mahony 086 834 2277 / Mary.OMahony@gasnetworks.ie
The case in question was taken by Gas Networks Ireland against Damian Bollard, with an address at Edenmore Park, Coolock, Dublin 5. Following an investigation by Gas Networks Ireland, it was found that the gas meter at the property had been unlawfully interfered with. Such interference is illegal and puts the lives of the occupants, their families, and their neighbours at risk.
Mr. Bollard was convicted of unlawful interference with a gas meter under Section 15 of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 as amended by the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012.
Gas Networks Ireland is the business division of Ervia that owns, operates and develops the natural gas network in Ireland and connects all customers to the gas network. Gas Networks Ireland operates one of the most modern and safe gas networks in the world, consisting of 13,000km of pipeline around Ireland. We ensure that almost 674,000 homes and businesses receive a safe, efficient and secure supply of natural gas, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Ervia is a commercial semi-state multi-utility company with responsibility for the delivery of gas and water infrastructure and services in Ireland.