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New Zealand Plumbers, Drainlayers & Gasfitters Association Inc

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Latest News / Gasfitter Michael Cartwright fined thousands over negligence that led to death of Jesse Samuel

NZ Herald – 27th January 2021

Twelve-year-old Jesse Samuel died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a gas-powered shower at his family's Haast holiday home. Photo / Supplied

A gasfitter whose negligence led to the death of a 12-year-old boy will pay his family $70,000.

Michael Cartwright and Central Plumbing Limited – which trades as Laser Plumbing Alexandra – appeared in the Dunedin District Court this afternoon after pleading guilty to two charges under the Plumbers, Gasfitters and Drainlayers Act.

As well as the reparation order, Cartwright was fined $19,250 and his company $104,500.

The defendants were responsible for the installation of a gas hot-water unit in a portable bathroom for Justine Walker and her family.

Jesse Samuel and siblings Codi Samuel, Jesse Samuel, McKenzie Claridge and Zane Samuel. Photo / Supplied

There was a warning sign on the unit, the court heard, that specified it should not be installed in a bathroom, but it was fatally ignored.

It was later transported to the family's holiday home in Haast and, on October 10, 2018, 12-year-old Jesse Samuel died after taking a shower.

Justine Walker and other members of the extended family read tearful victim-impact statements in court this afternoon, but the contents were suppressed by Judge Josephine Bouchier.

Judge Bouchier began proceedings by formally acknowledging the loss of Jesse but informed those in court that their pain could not be a governing factor at sentencing.

The monetary penalties spoken about were not supposed to equate to the value of a life, the judge said.

"There's nothing this court can do that will bring Jesse back."

The summary of facts said Gary Hale - a registered plumber and gasfitter who jointly owns the company with Cartwright - was employed to install the gas hot-water unit.

Cartwright was responsible for signing off Hale's work.

To avoid carbon monoxide entering the room, the unit had to be installed with adequate ventilation, the summary said.

Hale installed the water heater inside the bathroom and did not raise any concerns with Walker. Cartwright, who was required to certify the installation, never visited the bathroom, did not inspect the water heater, carry out any tests or consult with Hale, the court heard.