Haxby explosion: Jury returns verdict of 'accidental death'

Paul Wilmott was killed in a gas explosion at his home in North Yorkshire.

A jury has returned a verdict of 'accidental death' after a man was killed in a gas explosion at his home in North Yorkshire.

An inquest heard that Paul Wilmott may not have been able to smell the fumes that could have filled his home in just an hour.

His house, in Haxby near York, was demolished by the blast in February 2016.

The inquest heard that the explosion was caused by the fracture of a corroded gas pipe that was buried in the concrete floor of Mr Wilmott's 1970s-built house.

Steve Critchlow, a gas engineer and investigator for the Health and SafetyLaboratory, told the inquest in York that the fracture had happened recently and there was no evidence gas was leaking for a significant amount of time.

He said:

Mr Critchlow said the explosion could have been caused by an electrical switch, such as a light switch or kettle, igniting the leaking gas.

He said: "In these sort of events, people often wonder why no-one in the house smelt gas.

It's not untypical for gas to build up in the night and not notice it in themorning. That's because you are breathing it during the night and becomedesensitised to the smell."

The scene of the explosion in Haxby, near York.

Mr Wilmott's body was found beneath rubble at the back of the house.

The two-day inquest previously heard that the copper pipe in Mr Wilmott's house ran through two concrete slabs, subjecting it to tension for the entirety of its life as the slabs moved independently of each other.

It corroded and fractured at the point the slabs met in a doorway.

The jury was told that the corrosion could have been caused by a number offactors, including moisture, ammonia-based chemicals, or formic acid produced by an ants' nest found in a wall nearby.

Mr Critchlow, who investigated the explosion for the Health and SafetyExecutive, said: