A man who threatened to blow up a street of houses has been jailed.
Razvan Sinka warned a neighbour they should be "ready to evacuate" after telling them he was was going to blow up the street and claimed to have bought 20 litres of a flammable liquid.
Police were alerted in January by a resident of Station Road in Wallsend concerned about threatening social media messages received by a neighbour on the street.
The 36-year-old also was seen with a bottle of clear liquid outside the house, having squirted some onto the path of his neighbour’s property – leaving a strong petrol-like smell.
The victim also reported hearing loud bangs earlier the same day, accompanied by shouting and screaming in the neighbouring property.
Officers were deployed to the address and Sinka was arrested while out walking a dog.
The court heard a potential disaster was only averted by "sheer luck" when police went to the property to return his dog and noticed the smell, with a search revealing the gas supply had been tampered with causing the gas to leak – using a hammer which was found nearby.
Sinka was charged with communication to cause distress and criminal damage with intent to danger life.
Later, in an interview, the victim told police they were terrified, and genuinely believed Sinka would follow through with his threats and that they were going to die.
They were also not aware he had caused a gas-leak in his address and were extremely distressed when this information was revealed, stating the result could have been "disastrous" had police not intervened.
Earlier this year, Sinka, of Station Road, Wallsend, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court, where he pleaded guilty to of criminal damage and communication conveying false information.
On Wednesday 17 May, he was jailed for six years and was given a restraining order to protect the victim, which is in place until 2028.
Matthew Purves, defending, said Razvan is of previous good character and worked in catering until the pandemic hit.
Mr Purves said Razvan, who has PTSD and other mental health problems as a result of a traumatic background, had delivered a "couple of blows" to the meter after having to top it up every two to three days.
Detective Inspector Jonathon Pallace, of Northumbria Police, said: “This was a terrifying ordeal for the victim, and I hope this sentence offers them some reassurance that we will not tolerate this kind of threatening behaviour.
“Sinka had caused a gas-leak inside the property, and it appears to have been solely good luck that this whole incident did not end in tragedy. Thankfully, when officers uncovered the supply had been damaged, they were able to cut it off and make the property safe before anything could happen.
“His actions were reckless and dangerous, tampering with the supply of an extremely flammable gas supply with a hammer. In doing so, he endangered the lives of everybody living nearby – he could have easily killed somebody had the leak spread and caught alight.
“I am delighted that Sinka has now been convicted of his crimes, and I’d like to thank the victim for their cooperation and support throughout this thorough investigation. I’m extremely grateful they contacted us and allowed us to intervene with this incident.
“Please let us know of any concerns you may have about what is happening in your community – you never know what you could be preventing.”
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