Halifax Gas Fitters Sentenced

Two Halifax gas fitters have been sentenced and banned from running businesses after they abused the insolvency regime

The two gas fitters appeared at Bradford Crown Court on 21 March 2022 for sentencing after they pleaded guilty to offences against the Insolvency Act 1986.

Colin Richard Marsh (52) received an 8-month sentence, suspended for 2 years, 250 hours of unpaid work and was disqualified from being a director for 5 years.

His business partner, Robert Farrell (52), received an 18-month community order, 120 hours unpaid work and was also banned from being a director for 3 years.

During proceedings, the court heard that Colin Marsh and Robert Farrell were directors of Direct Laundry Installations Limited before the company was placed into creditors voluntary liquidation in October 2015.

The liquidation triggered an investigation by the Insolvency Service into the conduct of the two gas fitters before investigators uncovered a series of offences.

Prior to Direct Laundry Installations’ liquidation, the two gas fitters incorporated a second company in July 2015 called Direct Laundry and Steam Installations Limited.

The second company, however, breached insolvency law as it had a similar name, traded from the same address, and carried out the same activities as the liquidated company.

Further inquiries uncovered that during the insolvency proceedings of the first company, Colin Marsh and Robert Farrell repeatedly failed to deliver up the company books and records to the liquidators.

The pair also failed to properly explain why £68,000 was transferred out of Direct Laundry Installations’ bank accounts, while providing a falsely backdated invoice in the name of the second company to justify the payment.

Investigators also uncovered the first company, Direct Laundry Installations, was fined £12,000 for a dangerous gas installation whilst unlicensed but the fine was never paid.

In October 2017 the two gas fitters signed disqualification undertakings and agreed not to act as company directors for 7 seven years. Colin Marsh and Robert Farrell, however, failed to resign from the second company for nearly 5 months and continued to run Direct Laundry and Steam Installations behind the scenes which was illegal.

Colin Marsh was charged with one offence for reusing a prohibited company name. Robert Farrell was charged with one offence for failing to co-operate with the office holder and one offence of falsely backdating an invoice contrary to the Theft Act 1968.

Julie Barnes, Chief Investigator for the Insolvency Service, said:

The law is clear that when a company is insolvent, the directors are strictly not allowed to start a new company with a similar sounding name before continuing as they had before with no consequences. This is to protect businesses and customers from being duped by directors who fail to run a business in a proper and professional manner.
Colin Marsh and Robert Farrell, however, totally abused the insolvency regime when they incorporated a near-identical second company while they were in the throws of winding-up the first failed business. Their conduct was totally reckless and their sentences should serve as a warning that we will prosecute company directors who break the law.

Notes to Editors

Colin Richard Marsh is of Halifax and his date of birth is 10 September 1969

Robert Austin Farrell is of Halifax and his date of birth is 31 January 1970.

Direct Laundry Installations Ltd (Company number 07328299) and Direct Laundry and Steam Installations Limited (Company number 09700953).

Further information about the work of the Insolvency Service, and how to complain about financial misconduct