Furniture boss who injured 81 by sparking explosion at his failing shop is jailed for 20 years 

Daily Mail Online 0 month ago
Blasio (pictured) has been jailed for 20 years after he injured 81 people in the Wirral when he caused the explosion
Blasio (pictured) has been jailed for 20 years after he injured 81 people in the Wirral when he caused the explosion 

A furniture shop owner has been jailed for 20 years for causing a 'colossal' explosion which injured 81 people in an attempt to claim insurance.

Pascal Blasio, 57, of Gillingham in Kent, caused the blast at his failing business, the Homes In Style furniture store in New Ferry, Wirral, on March 25 2017, Liverpool Crown Court heard on Wednesday.

Sentencing him, Judge Thomas Teague QC said: 'You have exhibited human selfishness in an almost chemically pure state.'

The businessman was found guilty of causing an explosion likely to endanger life and of fraud, in relation to an insurance claim for more than £50,000, following a trial.

The blast, at about 9.15pm on a Saturday night, happened when Blasio opened a valve in his shop to release gas and switched on an electric fire, the court heard. It destroyed or damaged 63 properties.

Pictured: The annihilated furniture store in New Ferry after Blasio turned on the gas and an electric fire in the store
Pictured: The annihilated furniture store in New Ferry after Blasio turned on the gas and an electric fire in the store 

Judge Teague told him: 'You did not care who else might suffer as long as you could swindle the insurers out of £50,000, money to which you knew perfectly well you had no right.'

He said the blast was 'colossal' and 'annihilated' the furniture store and dance studio above it, as well as effectively reducing an entire block of buildings 'to rubble'.

The judge said it was a 'remarkable stroke of sheer good fortune' that no-one was killed.

Blasio, whose wife was in tears in court, sat with his head against the glass panel of the dock at times during the hearing and shook his head as the judge read his sentencing remarks.

This still taken from CCTV footage shows the street in New Ferry just before Blasio's explosion wrecked surrounding properties
This still taken from CCTV footage shows the street in New Ferry just before Blasio's explosion wrecked surrounding properties 
The explosion is pictured as it annihilated the furniture store, before spreading to other properties and injuring residents
The explosion is pictured as it annihilated the furniture store, before spreading to other properties and injuring residents 
The explosion left the street strewn with debris as the furniture store collapsed after the explosion on the Wirral
The explosion left the street strewn with debris as the furniture store collapsed after the explosion on the Wirral 

The court heard that among the 81 victims of the explosion was Lewis Jones, who was waiting at a bus stop when the blast happened and suffered a serious brain injury. Henry Riding, prosecuting, said: 'He was left, literally, clinging to life.'

Mr Jones, who was 21 at the time, was in court for the hearing along with other members of the community.

Ian Brown, who had been having a meal in Lan's Chinese restaurant, opposite the furniture shop, when the explosion happened, told the court it felt like a terrorist attack.

He said: 'It was a complete scene of devastation and there was complete pandemonium. The air was thick with dust, you couldn't see.'

The roofs of surrounding houses were wrecked by the blast after Blasio set off the gas and turned on his electric fire
The roofs of surrounding houses were wrecked by the blast after Blasio set off the gas and turned on his electric fire 

The court heard a number of statements from residents describing the impact of the injuries and damage to properties.

Kim Ashwin, co-owner of Complete Works Performance School above the Homes In Style shop, said if the blast had happened earlier in the day or on any other night of the week there could have been 100 children and their families inside the dance studio.

Blasio (pictured) has been jailed for 20 years following the horrendous blast
Blasio (pictured) has been jailed for 20 years following the horrendous blast 

In a statement, Neil Mitchell, from Wirral Council environmental services, said: 'The explosion in March 2017 was probably the most significant disaster that the council and emergency services in the borough had ever faced in peacetime.'

David Mason QC, defending, said Blasio, a grandfather-of-seven, had suffered intimidation from inmates in prison while on remand. 

He said: 'Mr Blasio has lost everything now, his family will suffer.'

Blasio was sentenced to 20 years for causing the explosion and given a concurrent sentence of eight years for the fraud.

Blasio originally stood trial in January but the jury was discharged after being unable to reach a verdict and a retrial began last month.

Before his trial, Contract Natural Gas pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure that gas supply pipes were disconnected.

The company was fined £320,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 towards the prosecution costs.


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