A ‘neighbor from hell’ caused a gas explosion that killed a two-year-old boy

A ‘neighbor from hell’ caused a gas explosion that killed a two-year-old boy after he cut a gas line to sell it for scrap, a court heard.

Darren Greenham, 45, used an angle grinder to cut the pipe in the early hours of May 16 last year, causing the huge explosion that killed George Hinds, whose family lived on the nearby property in Mallowdale Avenue, Heysham, Lancashire, Preston Crown Court heard on Tuesday.

George’s father, Stephen Hinds, told the court: “By Darren Greenham cutting a gas pipe to make a few pounds, I have lost my son, my absolute world.”

He said Greenham, who was addicted to alcohol and drugs, made his neighbors’ lives a “misery” and would play music until the early hours and insult George.

A 'neighbor from hell' caused a gas explosion that killed a two-year-old boyGeorge Hinds (Picture: PA)

Mr Hinds, who wore a blue Paw Patrol tie and took a Paw Patrol toy into the witness box with him, said: “It makes my blood boil now, I always did the right thing and I reported it to the council and the police, nothing was ever done.

In a statement, George’s mother, Vicki Studholme, said she felt ‘unsafe’ at home because of Greenham, a ‘neighbor from hell’ who she said had made threats of violence towards her, her husband and their son.

She said: “I think although we have reported this countless times, we have been let down by the council and the police, and the death of my beautiful baby boy could have been avoided.”

She added: “After the explosion, being trapped in the rubble was the scariest thing I’ve ever had in my life.

“That was until I arrived at the hospital to find out that George had died.

“Never, ever have I been so scared as at this point in my life.”

A 'neighbor from hell' caused a gas explosion that killed a two-year-old boyGas explosion (Photo: PA)

The court heard the blast at 2.36am destroyed the property owned by Lancashire County Council in which Greenham lived and severely damaged the two adjoining houses nearby. A total of 55 properties in the area were damaged.

Timothy Cray KC, prosecuting, said that at the time of the explosion, the council was considering initiating eviction proceedings after a number of complaints about Greenham’s behavior.

He said: “He had removed every piece of pipework he could for weeks before, apparently because he knew he was going there and wanted to do what he could by selling it as scrap. ”

The court heard that the property’s gas meter had been altered so that Greenham could receive gas without paying for it.

A report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after the explosion revealed that the wooden planks had been removed from the first floor landing of the house and the gas pipes had been deliberately cut.

The explosion would likely have taken place 20 to 40 minutes after they were cut off and there would have been a strong smell of gas and an audible noise before that, according to the report.

Peter Glenser KC, defending, said Greenham was sober for the first time in “many, many years” since he had been in custody awaiting sentencing.

He said: “With that sobriety came a clarity and insight that he hadn’t had in all his years of drinking and drug abuse, and that clarity and insight allowed him to see for the first times what terrible harm he has caused. ”

Greenham, who suffered a serious head injury and lost most of the use of his right hand in the blast, pleaded guilty in August to manslaughter, damaging a gas meter and gas theft.

He will be sentenced on Wednesday.

Comments are closed.