Great-grandson of Kingstanding gas explosion victim condemns leak advice

Doreen Mace died last year when her partner's home in Kingstanding exploded after a gas leak. Credit: Handout

The great-grandson of a woman who died in a gas explosion in Kingstanding in Birmingham wants the advice given to people who report a suspected gas leak to be changed.

An inquest ruled today that retired pub landlady Doreen Mace, originally from Erdington, died in an accidental house explosion on Sunday, June 26 last year.

The 79-year-old's death is thought to have been caused by gas escaping from a “decades-old” pipe underneath the lounge floor - where she is thought to have been at the time of the explosion.

Her great-grandson, Bradley O'Brien, said the inquest has "given a lot of clarity" around the circumstances as to how his "family-orientated" great-grandmother died but believes incorrect advice was given when the leak was suspected.

The inquest heard that Doreen Mace's partner David Murphy reported he could smell "what he thought was gas", his hob was no longer working, and the meter was "making a noise".

Audio records show the couple were told a gas engineer would be there within the hour and not to use any ignition.

Speaking to ITV News Central outside court, Mr O'Brien said: "I think going forward the Cadent transcript needs to be changed.

"I think they incorrectly advised my nan and her partner to open the windows and actually not leave the house.

"I spoke to the gas expert and one of his first questions was why weren't they told to leave the house.

"So, going forward I want my nan's death to change these transcripts and the actual advice given to people during these situations."

The inquest heard from the Health and Safety Executive that people are not routinely advised to leave their properties by gas suppliers because the risk of explosions is so rare, and that suspected leaks are often not the case.

Each year, the inquest heard, there is on average one death from a gas explosion.

Mr O'Brien also thanked the neighbours who had gone into the rubble and rescued Mr Murphy and tried to find his great-grandmother.

He said: "My heart goes out to you. The world needs more people like you who are actually willing to sacrifice their life for someone else.

"They are very brave people, especially as we found out in the inquest that there was gas coming out of the house as people were still trying to pull David and my nan out of the rubble.

"My heart really goes out to those people, so thank you."

Doreen Mace, 79, died following an explosion at a house in Kingstanding. Credit: ITV News Central

Speaking about his great-grandmother, Mr O'Brien said Doreen Mace "always spoke her mind and was not scared to speak her mind."

"It's very difficult to put into words. The only thing I can really talk about is that we have all stayed very strong and we've all stayed together during this process and I think that's been the most important thing."

"It's a very traumatising thing to have gone through but it [the inquest] has given us a lot of answers."

Cadent’s network director for the West Midlands, Elliot Nelson, said: "The thoughts of everyone at Cadent are with the family and friends of Doreen Mace.

"We worked closely with the emergency services to support their investigation at the time of this tragic accident. 

"Through our investigations, we found that our gas mains and the services pipes in the area were sound and did not contribute to the incident."

What to do if you smell gas:

  • Switch off your gas supply at your gas meter.  Turn the handle next to the gas meter 90 degrees so it is across the gas pipe.

  • Make sure all your gas appliances are switched off. 

  • Open all doors and windows to ventilate the property. 

  • Do not turn on or off any electrical switches

  • Do not extinguish any naked flames such as cigarettes or candles. 

  • Call the National Gas Emergency Service number on 0800 111 999 and relevant advice will be given and a gas emergency engineer will be sent to the property.