Man jailed after putting neighbours at risk in gas blast

Edinburgh High Court. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Edinburgh High Court. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A man who put his neighbours’ lives in danger when he woke up in a hazy state in a gas-filled flat and lit a cigarette that sparked an explosion was jailed for 18 months yesterday.

Jamie Bishop had earlier deliberately cut a pipe allowing gas to escape into his home before the blast on 1 April this year.

A judge told Bishop at the High Court in Edinburgh: “It was extremely fortunate other people were not severely injured or even killed as a result of your actions.”

Lord Ericht told him that he would have ordered he be detained for 27 months for the offence, but for his guilty plea.

Bishop, 20, earlier admitted culpably and recklessly damaging a pipe causing gas to escape and afterwards lighting the cigarette causing the explosion at his home in Broxburn, West Lothian damaging property and endangering life.

He told police that he had researched methods of committing suicide on his mobile phone and placed an order for a helium tank using his father’s bank card.

When the tank failed to arrive he carried out further research and discovered a method to gas himself.

Advocate depute Stewart Ronnie earlier told the court: “He stated it never crossed his mind that anyone else could be hurt.”

Neighbours heard a very loud bang and furniture moved as the building shook with a cloud of smoke coming from Bishop’s ground floor flat.

Bishop was seen looking petrified and with his arms apparently “singed”. A nurse saw that he had sustained burns to his hands and got plastic bags to cover them until emergency services arrived.

He told a police officer that he did not mean to cause an explosion and that he turned the gas on and fell asleep and after waking lit a cigarette as he always did.

Bishop, who had been freed from Livingston Sheriff Court two months earlier on bail, revealed he had damaged a gas pipe by the boiler in the kitchen. The flat was found to be extensively damaged with debris from the blast being thrown up to 30 metres.

Mr Ronnie said: “The building is considered to be not worth repairing.

“A rebuild cost has been valued at £155,412. In all probability the likelihood is that the building will require to be rebuilt.”

Three tenants have had to be rehoused and were not allowed to retrieve their possessions because of health and safety concerns.

The prosecutor said: “One resident was uninsured and his pet cat died of smoke inhalation causing further upset.”

Defence solicitor advocate Ewen Roy told the court that Bishop was “a very troubled young man” who was at his lowest ebb when he tried to end his life.