A “beautiful” two-year-old boy was killed and two houses collapsed, the court said, after a “neighbour from hell” caused a huge gas explosion.
Darren Greenham, 45, used an angle grinder to cut a pipe in the early hours of last May 16, sold it as scrap metal, and caused an explosion that killed George Hinds.
The young lad’s family lived at a neighboring estate on Marrowdale Avenue in Heysham, Lancashire, Preston Crown Court heard Tuesday.
“I lost my son, my absolute world, to Darren Greenham cutting gas pipes to make a pittance,” George’s father Stephen Hines told court.
He said that Greenham, who was dependent on alcohol and drugs, made his neighbors’ lives “miserable,” playing music until the early hours of the morning and insulting George.
“My blood boils now,” Hines, who wore a blue Paw Patrol tie and brought a Paw Patrol toy to the witness box, said. It has been done.”
In a statement, George’s mother Vicki Stadholm said she felt “unsafe” in her home because her “neighbor from hell” Greenham threatened violence against her, her husband and her son. .
She said, “I have made countless reports and feel let down by the council and the police. The death of my beautiful boy could have been avoided.”
“Being trapped in the rubble after the explosion was the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
“This was until I arrived at the hospital and was told that George had died.
“I have never been more terrified than at that moment in my life.”
The court heard that the 2:36 am explosion destroyed property owned by Lancashire County Council, where Greenham lived, and severely damaged two adjacent terraced houses. A total of 55 facilities in the area were damaged.
Prosecutor Timothy Clay KC said at the time of the explosion, the council was considering taking eviction proceedings after numerous complaints about Greenham’s behavior.
The court heard that the gas meter on the premises had been altered so that Greenham could receive gas without paying a fee.
After the explosion, the Health and Safety Service (HSE) reported that the wooden floorboards had been removed from the home’s first-floor landing and the gas pipe had been deliberately cut.
The explosion likely occurred 20 to 40 minutes after being cut, and was preceded by a strong smell of gas and an audible noise, the report said.
Defense attorney Peter Glenther KC said Greenham had stopped drinking for the first time in “years and years” since he was taken into custody awaiting sentencing.
He said: “The clarity and insight he did not have through his years of drinking and drugs was not what he had over his years of drinking and drugs.”
Greenham, who suffered severe head injuries in the blast and lost most of his right hand, pleaded guilty in August to manslaughter for breaking a gas meter and stealing gas.
He will be sentenced on Wednesday.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/20009195/neighbour-from-hell-caused-gas-blast-killed-boy/ ‘Hell’s Neighbor’ Causes Gas Explosion, Kills 2 ‘Beautiful’ Boys, Collapses 2 Houses