Goldthorpe, who contacted his victims via Facebook, was originally exposed on the BBC Watchdog programme.
He pleaded guilty to a string of health and safety offences and was jailed for 16 months at Manchester Crown Court on 10 February in a prosecution brought by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), supported by St Helens Council’s Trading Standards Service.
The court heard that when challenged by a victim in St Helens as to why he had undertaken work when he was not legally registered or qualified, Goldthorpe had replied: “Please don’t tell Trading Standards, I have enough problems mate.”
Darrell Wilson, St Helens Council’s Chief Trading Standards Officer, said: “It is vitally important when having specialist work such as plumbing and heating undertaken that the traders you are dealing with are reputable and suitably qualified, for your own safety.
“Be very wary of traders operating through social media, cold calling or knocking on your door. You should never be made to feel pressured into having work done.
“We are fortunate in St Helens to have the Trader Register which provides a list of reputable local tradespeople, hosted and administered by St Helens Trading Standards.”
Speaking following the hearing, HSE inspector Anthony Banks commented: “Richard Goldthorpe knowingly defrauded homeowners and purposely misled them into thinking he was registered with Gas Safe Register.
“Mr Goldthorpe had even been warned on national television that he was breaking the law. The work he did was unsafe and he put several families at risk. It is only a matter of chance that no one was seriously harmed.
“All gas work must be done by registered Gas Safe engineers to ensure the highest standards are met to prevent injury and loss of life. The public should always ask to see the gas engineer’s identification and check the registration number online (www.gassaferegister.co.uk) or ring the Gas Safe Register customer helpline 0800 408 5500.”
Find the Trader Register online at www.sthelens.gov.uk/traderregister or telephone 0808 223 1133.