Mr McCormack had originally been issued with a Notice in 2008 after the HSE found that his inspections of inflatable play equipment were substandard. Test certificates had been issued for inflatables which in fact were unsafe for children to use as there was a risk of children’s fingers and toes being trapped in open seams.
The HSE first investigated Mr McCormack in June 2006 after concerns were raised about certificates issued as a “pass” for inflatables which were subsequently found to have safety defects. A Prohibition Notice was served by the HSE on 11 November 2008, at which time the Defendant was called Peter Morrell. He was required to stop carrying out examinations of inflatables until he had complied with the schedule attached to the Notice. He was also charged with three breaches of Section 3(2) HSWA for failing, as a self-employed person, to conduct his undertaking in a way to ensure that he did not expose people to a risk to their health and safety. Mr Morrell pleaded guilty and received concurrent conditional discharges. A fine was not imposed due to Mr Morrell’s poor financial circumstances.
However, it subsequently became apparent that less than one month after the Prohibition Notice was issued, Mr Morrell had issued a safety certificate for an inflatable in clear breach of the Notice. He returned to inspect the inflatable six months later, but he was turned away. The HSE brought a second prosecution.
On 9 July 2010, Mr Morrell admitted breaching Section 33(1)(g) HSWA (which makes it an offence to contravene the requirements of a Prohibition Notice) and received an 18 week prison sentence suspended for two years, together with 60 hours community service and an order of £500 costs. The Judge warned Mr Morrell that he should comply with the notice “in word, deed, completely to the letter”.
However, just days later and over the following weeks, Mr Morrell undertook further inspections and either issued certificates or carried out substandard repairs for inflatables on at least four occasions. A third prosecution therefore followed. By this time, Mr Morrell had changed his name to Mr McCormack. During the course of those proceedings, Mr McCormack was arrested for failing to attend a plea and case management hearing and was imprisoned for breach of his bail conditions. After pleading guilty to seven breaches of Section 33 (1)(g) and one breach of s 3(2) HSWA, Mr McCormack was sentenced to 62 weeks imprisonment. Whilst 77 year old Mr McCormack (who is now apparently known as Paul Armstrong) had submitted via his barrister that he had no intention of ever going near an inflatable again the Judge, understandably, was not convinced that the contrition expressed was genuine. With Mr McCormack due to be considered for release on licence in November 2012, only time will tell.