Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Electricity device fraudsters to be investigated over slurry gas detectors

Three businessmen who received a suspended 15 month prison sentence at Newry Crown Court recently after being convicted of selling hundreds of bogus “electricity saving devices” are now being investigated over the sale of slurry gas detectors.

Gary John McGeown, John Paul McGeown and Peter Doran  – trading as Electricity Saver Ireland from premises in Abbey Street, Armagh, pleaded guilty last week to conspiring to defraud consumers and businesses.

An investigation carried out by the PSNI and the Department for the Economy’s Trading Standards Service discovered that the business sold and fitted devices which they claimed would save users up to 25% off their electricity bills.  Testimonials from satisfied customers were found to be fake and forensic testing of the devices revealed that they did not deliver any savings and that they amounted to little more than pieces of plastic.

The court heard how the trio managed to persuade their customers of a “science” behind the devices, enticing them to pay between £200 and £7,500 to have the devices supplied and fitted. The court heard that the defendants had had not carried out any independent tests on the devices, which were manufactured in India, and they had made over £275,000 in sales between 2009 and 2013.

Richard Knipe, Trading Standards Service said, “The laws of physics would have to be rewritten for these devices to have worked in the manner claimed by the defendants. Probably the best way of saving money on your electricity bill still remains to be turning electrical devices off.”

Detective Chief Inspector Ian Wilson from the PSNI Economic Crime Unit welcomed the sentencing. “The victims in this case were the loyal customers of Electricity Saver Ireland who handed over their hard-earned money for these fake devices which claimed to reduce electricity bills by 25%.

“In reality, the devices were found to result in a maximum saving of 0.8% and in some cases actually used 1% more electricity when installed.”

It has emerged that the trio are also behind a “lifesaving” device sold to farmers to detect lethal slurry gases. Electricity Saver Ireland were retailing the devices for around £200 and claimed they would operate as a warning to farmers before toxic gases from manure reached dangerous levels.

They were billed as a farmyard safety essential after the Spence tragedy in Hillsborough in 2012 which saw two brothers and their father die after they were overcome by toxic gases.

A HSENI spokesperson confirmed that enquiries are currently being made into Electric Saver Ireland’s sale of slurry gas detectors.”

“There are a range of hand-held hydrogen sulphide detectors, produced by a number of well-known manufacturers, which are readily available and can, if properly maintained and calibrated, provide an additional safety precaution for farmers working with slurry,” added the spokesperson.

“HSENI is of the opinion that monitors can only ever be a back-up to a safe system of work, not a substitute.”