Burglar Ashley Burns jailed after causing 'grave risk' of a gas explosion at house in Cleethorpes
LIVES could have been put in serious danger and there could have been a "catastrophe" after a burglar ripped piping and radiators out of a house, leaving gas and water to escape.
Ashley Burns later refused to let gas officials and fire officers go inside his next-door home to carry out emergency checks – and caused a "grave" risk of an explosion by defiantly using a lighter to smoke a cigarette, a court heard.
Burns, 27, of Elliston Street, Cleethorpes, admitted burglary and assaulting Frank Boyd on August 3.
Nicholas Neale, prosecuting, told Grimsby Crown Court that a very strong smell of gas was discovered at an empty mid-terraced house and it was discovered that pipes had been ripped out, causing gas and water to escape.
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The radiators at the house in Montague Street, Cleethorpes, had been taken off the walls and left.
Burns had broken in through the roof and had tried to take a meter.
The gas was turned off and the emergency services were alerted.
Mr Boyd of the National Grid discovered that gas levels were dangerously high.
He went next door, where Burns was living at the time, to carry out checks inside with the fire brigade.
Burns would not let them inside, became abusive and was "ranting at them".
They managed to get inside after a woman let them in. Burns flicked a cigarette lighter and shouted: "You're trying to take my fag. I'll knock you out."
A fire officer stepped in to calm Burns down but he pushed Mr Boyd from behind down the stairs, causing him to fall onto a bicycle.
Burns later climbed on to the roof, shouted abuse and threw objects to the ground.
"The gas and fire services were able to get in and look at what the problem was," said Mr Neale.
The total bill for the damage caused was £14,700.
Judge Mark Bury told Burns: "You must have realised how dangerous this activity was.
"To compound that, when the National Grid arrived to put right what you had made dangerous, you were abusive and ultimately violent. You wouldn't let the gas man in.
"You must have been aware that the gas man was there because of the gas that was escaping from next door's property. He was in real danger, as he saw it, of a gas explosion.
"You pushed him downstairs and caused him to fall onto a bicycle.
"This was a very serious offence. There was a risk of a catastrophe happening because of your actions."
Richard Hackfath, mitigating, said Burns realised his actions caused a "grave risk of an explosion" and appreciated the seriousness of what he had done.
Burns regretted the confrontation with the gas official and his dangerous use of a cigarette.
Burns was jailed for two years and 11 months.