First imposed prison sentence for gas meter tampering and energy theft in Ireland, handed down in Cork

Welcoming the verdict in a case relating to the unlawful interference of a gas meter, where the first imposed prison sentence was handed down, Gas Networks Ireland’s Networks Safety Manager, Owen Wilson, said:

“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. Despite this, Gas Networks Ireland has detected approximately 3,000 cases of meter tampering across the country in the last decade.”

On Wednesday 28 February 2024, Mr Cornel Rostas and Ms Lina Rostas, with an address at 24 Orchard Court, Blackpool, Cork; pleaded guilty and were convicted at Cork District Court under Section 15 of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 on two charges - unlawful interference with a gas meter and the dishonest use of gas.

The court heard that Gas Networks Ireland had carried out an investigation at the property in August 2023 and found the lock on the gas meter had been removed illegally and the gas meter had been unlawfully tampered, preventing consumption from being recorded on the meter.

Judge Marian O’Leary, - having heard the evidence from Gas Networks Ireland on the matter - convicted both Cornel Rostas and Lina Rostas under sections 15(2) and 15(3) of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1995 as amended by Section 5 of the Energy (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2012.


Commenting that what they did was “outrageous” and that it could have had “dire consequences”, Judge O’Leary imposed the following sentences:

Cornel Rostas was sentenced to four months imprisonment (with the final three months suspended) and was issued with fines of €600, while a four-month prison sentence suspended for two years, and fines of €400 were issued to Lina Rostas.

“This is the first conviction that we have secured for meter tampering that has resulted in a term of imprisonment for the defendant and we hope that this verdict will act as a strong deterrent, sending out an important message to the public that meter tampering is a serious crime with potentially deadly consequences,” Mr Wilson commented. 

 "Thankfully the gas theft was spotted before anything dangerous happened. This situation could have been a lot more serious if the gas meter interference caused a gas leak.”

“While theft of gas is a very serious issue, far more serious is the risk to life that tampering with a gas meter poses to the perpetrator. and to people nearby. We are working hard to end unlawful interference with gas meters and the dangers associated with this activity”, Mr Wilson added.


Gas Networks Ireland has been actively engaged in identifying and making safe installations where tampering has been found and has detected approximately 3,000 cases of meter tampering across the country since 2013.

By law, only Gas Networks Ireland representatives and registered gas installers are authorised to work on natural gas meters and pipework. It is illegal to ask, pay or allow someone else to tamper with a gas meter.

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 six months for those found guilty of the crime.

“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,” Mr Wilson said.

Members of the public are asked to report any suspicions of gas meter tampering to Gas Networks Ireland in strict confidence by calling 1800 464 464.

Further information is available at