Published: 00:00, 13 October 2015
| Updated: 13:49, 13 October 2015
A man has been cleared of manslaughter after a friend died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a dangerous bathroom boiler he fitted at her chalet.
Terry Blackwell was, however, convicted of two offences of contravening Health and Safety regulations.
He had admitted a third similar charge involving carrying out the work at her Leysdown chalet when not qualified to do so.
Blackwell, 64, who claimed he had warned the friend, Linda Frost, not to use the boiler until he had fixed a gas leak in it, will be sentenced on Friday.
Judge Philip Statman granted bail but warned he had not yet decided on the sentence to be passed, the maximum for which is two years imprisonment or an unlimited fine.
Mrs Frost collapsed while taking a shower at Coronation Chalet Park in Coronation Drive and was found unconscious by Blackwell’s wife Mary.
The 61-year-old, from Stonewood, Bean, was taken to hospital but died soon afterwards.
"There must have been an obvious and serious risk of death" - Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC
Maidstone Crown Court heard Mrs Frost bought the two-bedroom bungalow with her sister and became friends with Blackwell and his wife.
Mrs Blackwell went to the chalet on April 13 and found Mrs Frost had collapsed in the shower.
An ambulance was called and Mrs Blackwell and neighbours gave Mrs Frost CPR until paramedics arrived.
She was taken to Medway Hospital at about 9.15am. She was pronounced dead at 12.50pm.
The cause of death was hypoxic brain injury due to inhalation of carbon monoxide.
Blackwell, of Hartland Forest, Woolsery, Devon, bought the “6L portable gas LPG propane tankless hot water boiler” on eBay.
Prosecutor Philip Bennetts QC said Blackwell owed Mrs Frost a duty of care. He was not qualified or registered to instal such an appliance.
“You may consider Terry Blackwell’s conduct is capable of being described as reprehensible,” he told jurors. “There must have been an obvious and serious risk of death.”
Danny Moore, defending, said he would be submitting a suspended sentence was appropriate.
Refusing an application for a pre-sentence report, Judge Statman said Blackwell was a man of impeccable character who was a well liked member of the community.
“That I accept entirely,” he added. “Everyone accepts this was an extraordinary kindness to repay Mr Frost and his wife.”
But he warned: “He must understand I have in no way made up my mind as to what is to be done. He must not think that because he is getting bail that is the end of it.”
The judge told the jury of nine women and three men: “You performed a really important function in a very, very difficult case.”
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More by this authorKeith Hunt
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