Sunderland man jailed over gas blast which caused £1.4m of damage

Ian Lenaghan has been sentenced to five years in prison for his part in an explosion on Whickham Street. Credit: Northumbria Police.

A man has been jailed for five years after causing an explosion that resulted in more than £1 million worth of damage on a residential street in Sunderland.

Newcastle Crown Court sentenced Ian Lenaghan, 59, on 19 August 2022 to five years in prison for his part in the explosion in Roker.

The court heard that this was part of an attempt to take his own life.

Passing sentence, Recorder Thomas Moran told Lenaghan: "Sadly there are many ways of doing that (taking your own life) but you chose an especially reckless way of doing that. The way you did it exposed a lot of people to danger as well.

"But you wrought havoc and misery for people around you when the inevitable explosion happened."

The former Royal Navy veteran recently been affected by a documentary he had watched on the Falklands War which, according to his defence, made him feel "since then (serving) he doesn't feel he's achieved anything of value except work, sit on his couch and watch TV."

Emergency services were called to an address on Whickham Street at about 3.45pm on 15 February, following a gas explosion in the kitchen of a first floor flat.

There was a significant emergency service response, and two men were taken to hospital with serious injuries.

Lenaghan was one of two people taken to hospital as a result of the blast.

He initially denied his involvement in the cause of the explosion, but on 11 May he pleaded guilty to damaging property reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The second male who was taken to hospital following the incident was later discharged. Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

An investigation into the cause of the explosion was subsequently carried out with police supported by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

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

  • The house was demolished the day after the explosion.

Detective Sergeant Alan Whittle, of Northumbria Police, said: “I am pleased to have been able to put Ian Lenaghan before the courts and highlight the great danger he caused to others that day.

“His reckless actions that afternoon could have so easily have resulted in a number of fatalities. In fact, it is sheer luck that nobody died or was seriously injured 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."

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