Man pleads guilty to causing Roker gas explosion which destroyed property

A view of the destroyed property on Whickham Street in Sunderland following the blast. Credit: Northumbria Police/ITV News Tyne Tees

A man has pleaded guilty to causing a gas explosion which left him and another member of public in hospital and destroyed a number of properties.

Ian Lenaghan admitted damaging property reckless as to whether life was endangered when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court via videolink on Wednesday 11 May.

The 59-year-old, of Rothbury Road, Sunderland, was one of two people taken to hospital with serious injuries as a result of the blast on Whickham Street, Sunderland, at 3.45pm on 15 February.

The explosion destroyed one property and severely damaged several others.

It blew the roof off the destroyed property in Roker and spread debris across the street.

Northumbria Police said the cost of the damage was over £1m.

Northumbria Police said the damage caused in the blast cost more than £1m Credit: Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service

Detective Sergeant Alan Whittle, of Northumbria Police, said: “Ian Lenaghan’s actions that afternoon could so easily have resulted in a number of fatalities. It is sheer luck that nobody died in that blast.

“The damage caused on this residential street was significant, at an estimated value of up to £1.4 million.

"It displaced people from their homes and came at a huge cost to everyone involved.

“I am pleased that he has now been convicted of this offence at court and he must now face the consequences of his mindless actions when he is sentenced next month."

The force said an investigation into the cause of the explosion was subsequently carried out with police, supported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service.

They found that a gas cooker hose had been cut multiple times with a sharp metal object prior to the blast

The second male who was taken to hospital has since been discharged.

Lenaghan was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on 27 June.

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