In the Media

Gas fitter jailed for manslaughter after carbon monoxide death

PUBLISHED April 17, 2012

A gas fitter wept as he was jailed for killing a "talented" young woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning after he did a botched job on her father's boiler.

Jailing Andrew Hartley for three years, Judge Neil Ford QC said there were "absolutely no malicious or hostile intentions in this case" but the loss to the young woman's family was "profound" and a prison sentence was "simply the price" he had to pay.

Zoe Anderson, 24, was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes at the home of her father, Chris Anderson, the founder of a magazine empire and now curator of TED, which aims to spread groundbreaking ideas across the globe through talks, conferences and other events.

Mr Anderson's Victorian townhouse in Bath had been "flooded" by the lethal fumes which leaked out of a faulty boiler flue fitted by Hartley, 37.

During a two-week trial at Bristol crown court earlier this year a jury was told that Hartley did a "rushed" and "botched job" and found him guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Sentencing Hartley, the judge said: "Zoe was a young and talented woman with a fruitful life ahead of her. You were qualified, your record of work in the field was long and good. You are a wholly respectable man. Your sense of guilt can properly be characterised as overwhelming.

"There is no self pity in your approach to the tragedy, you are accurately aware of the suffering that you have inflicted on others and that the suffering of the Anderson family is the greatest of all.

"There is no prospect at all of you committing further offences; this is simply the price that you must pay for an isolated but serious criminal offence."

The jury had been told that Ms Anderson, who had a masters degree in neuroscience, was discovered dead by her boyfriend in the shower room of her father's home in one of Bath's most exclusive streets shortly after Christmas in 2010.

At first it was thought Ms Anderson had slipped and banged her head but later it was found she had collapsed from carbon monoxide poisoning.

The prosecution said Hartley, of Radstock, Somerset, failed to secure the flue pipe correctly, if at all. Hartley maintained the boiler had been correctly fitted and suggested the flue pipe had become disconnected during cold weather.

Writing after his daughter's death, Anderson paid tribute to "my dazzling daughter". He wrote: "Two weeks ago today, riding a ski-lift on a glorious clear day in Whistler, I got the impossible phonecall. Zoe, my beautiful, larger-than-life 24-year-old daughter had been found dead at our home in Bath, England.

"On Saturday we gathered in England with friends and family from all around the world to celebrate an extraordinary life. Amidst the terrifying grief, some light began to shine through as we marvelled at the ways her life had touched so many people."