Builders poisoned kids and dog with fumes in botched housework

A mum has slammed a builder responsible for poisoning her two children after he walked free from court.

David Coulson admitted a string of health and safety breaches but avoided prison after he was labelled a "scapegoat" for the shoddy work of others.

Lisa Hopper's two children ended up in hospital after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning when their home in Newcastle was turned into a death trap when her dream extension turned into a nightmare, Chronicle Live reports.

Experts found the home riddled with defects, and it was even at risk of exploding after it filled with deadly fumes which left the youngsters in need of oxygen.

The fumes also poisoned the family dog.

Lisa slammed 36-year-old Coulson's suspended sentence, handed to him by Newcastle Crown Court.

She has vowed to chase him through the civil courts to reclaim the £8,000 she claims she had paid to fix his "mess".

The mum said: "I just think he's got away with it and that he's got off lightly.

"We have suffered because of him for three years – we could have potentially died.

"Still to this day, I wake up in the middle of the night and go downstairs to test the (carbon monoxide) alarm."

Lisa hired Coulson in 2018 after a glowing recommendation from a friend.

Over the course of a month, she and her family fell sick. Crippling headaches left her bed-ridden while her daughter was vomiting and sleeping more and more.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how both girls were given oxygen and were found to have 2% carbon monoxide in their blood.

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She contacted Coulson, and it emerged he had subcontracted out the job.

Despite the work putting the family's lives at risk Coulson claimed it "would be the end of his career if what happened got out" and asked her to keep quiet.

A probe by the Health and Safety Executive unearthed 14 defects with the gas works, three of which were potentially dangerous to life or property.

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Experts found that the flue the firm had fitted had high levels of carbon monoxide and had not been sealed and the boiler was supported using a rope and concrete block.

The Health and Safety Executive brought the prosecution and Coulson pleaded guilty to contravening health and safety regulations and failing to provide information about the workmen he employed.

He was handed a 12-month prison sentence suspended for two years after his barrister claimed he had been made a "scapegoat".

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Following the case, ChronicleLive approached Coulson for comment.

When asked if he had anything to say about the case, and what happened to the family, he appeared tearful but declined to comment.

In mitigation, it was claimed that he was simply "out of his depth" as a project manager of that size.

Richard Bloomfield, defending, said: "He had to subcontract to others on his behalf to carry out work he had no idea how to carry out.

"It was the first time he'd done a project of this size and nature.

"He didn't do any of the work complained of. He subcontracted it to people he knew, people who assured him they were competent to do the work but it's quite obvious they weren't.

"He has expressed genuine remorse and admits making a big mistake. He recognises the need to stay out of things he doesn't understand."

He must also carry out 250 hours unpaid work and pay £5,200 costs while he is also facing a summer indoors after he was slapped with a three month curfew.

Lisa, her family and friends have now all had carbon monoxide detectors fitted.

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