Director of rogue asbestos removal firm jailed for fraud and shoddy working which put people 'at risk'

The director of a rogue asbestos removal company has been jailed for fraud and shoddy working practices which put people “at risk”.

Daniel Luke Cockcroft of Darnes Avenue, Halifax, who ran Asbestos Boss Ltd's operations on a day to day basis, was sentenced to ten months behind bars.

Asbestos Boss Ltd, also known as Asbestos Team, advertised as a licensed asbestos removal company and worked in homes across the country.

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However an investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found that Asbestos Boss Ltd had never held a licence.

File pic: an asbestos warning sign.File pic: an asbestos warning sign.
File pic: an asbestos warning sign.

The HSE said their poor working practices "resulted in the large scale spread of asbestos and exposure to homeowners and their families".

HSE Inspector Matt Greenly said asbestos should only be removed under strictly controlled conditions.

However little to no precautions were taken by Asbestos Boss Ltd and so their own workers, as well as anybody at the premises they were working on, were at serious risk of exposure to asbestos.

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The company and Cockroft also breached a prohibition notice on several occasions.

Mr Greenly said: "It is a fibre that can become airborne. If you breathe it in sufficient quantities it causes cancer - there's no might do.

"There's no cure for asbestos disease - it can take 30 or 40 years to show up. Asbestos Boss Ltd not only have put their customers at risk but have also undoubtedly put themselves, their workers, and their families at serious risk.”

At Manchester Magistrates Cockroft pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety legislation as well as a breach of a prohibition notice.

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He was jailed for six months and ordered to pay victim compensation.

At the same hearing he was jailed to another four months after admitting fraud, following a prosecution by Stockport Trading Standards.

Cockcroft and the company were both charged with fraud in relation to falsifying training certificates, a business insurance document and unauthorised use of trade association logos which misled customers into believing that the business properly run.

Asbestos Boss Ltd was found guilty of a breach of asbestos regulations and also failing to to comply with a prohibition notice at two separate addresses which prevented them from working with asbestos. It was also convicted of fraud. The company has yet to be sentenced.

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Mr Greenly said Cockroft was “taking orders, doing work and threatening people if they didn't pay”.

Cockroft had "chanced his own life, and the life of his family by working unsafely with asbestos, despite knowing full well what the risks were." Mr Greenly urged potential customers to use a fully licensed and competent contractor.

According to the World Health Organisation about 125 million people in the world are exposed to asbestos at the workplace. Around half of the deaths from occupational cancer are estimated to be caused by asbestos. It is also estimated that several thousand deaths annually can be attributed to exposure to asbestos in the home.