Jamie Heaton blast death: Andrew Partington jailed
A man who blew up his Greater Manchester home in a gas blast that killed his neighbour's two-year-old son has been jailed for 10 years.
Jamie Heaton died as he watched TV at his home in Buckley Street, Shaw, Oldham, which was destroyed in the blast on 26 June.
Andrew Partington, 28, who lived next door, previously admitted manslaughter at Manchester Crown Court.
Partington, a father-of-six, suffered 40% burns and a broken back.
Jamie had been in the lounge while his mother was doing housework and his father was out at work.
The toddler's mother survived the blast as she had gone into the back yard to hang out her washing.
Jamie lived with his parents, Kenny and Michelle, and two siblings, next door to Partington, who lived with his partner, Tania Williams, and their children.
Partington and Ms Williams had a stormy relationship, according to locals, with police being called to one incident.
Neighbours said there was a row the night before the blast and Partington had been drinking.
He cut two gas pipes in his house because his girlfriend had left him and taken their children, the court heard.
He sent a series of text messages to his partner Ms Williams on the night before the explosion.
One said: "Told you next time you leave, house goes up with me. You left your kids with no dad no home. Goodbye. Boom. Gas pipes cut. Already filled up. Boom."
He let his house fill with gas overnight, but said he woke up, turned off the gas supply and opened windows.
Partington then lit a cigarette at about 11.20 BST, and the gas which was still in the property ignited.
Partington spent weeks in hospital and still suffers from injuries sustained in the blast.
Sentencing him, Mr Justice Hamblen said: "The resulting scene of the devastation resembled a bomb site and in some senses it was. It was in effect a bomb that you created and detonated.
"As a result of your reckless actions you have caused the death of Jamie. You have taken away his life and a large part of his parents and siblings' lives."
He accepted it appeared that Partington had a change of heart in blowing up the house when he woke up the next day but said lighting a cigarette was "highly reckless".
"You were aware of the risk but you chose unreasonably to take that risk," he said.
The cost of damage to the houses and surrounding streets has been estimated at about £1.2m.
After the sentencing, Kenny and Michelle Heaton released a statement about their "beautiful, healthy boy".
They said: "When we heard the tragic news that no parent would ever expect to hear, we wanted to believe there was a reasonable explanation for what happened.
"As time went by and after extensive enquiries we have learned that the explosion was caused by a selfish and deliberate criminal act.
"The fact that the act was deliberate and totally avoidable has made the grieving ever harder to manage."
They went on to thank the local community for the support offered in the aftermath of the blast, and the emergency services.
PC Paul Darlington was one of the first officers on the scene after the blast.
Speaking about the moment he found Jamie, he said: "Tragically I found him dead inside [the house] and this is something that still haunts me.
"Despite our best efforts we could not free him from the rubble at that time and I just wish the outcome had been different for him and his family.
"I hope they have found some comfort now Andrew Partington has been sentenced and my thoughts and sympathies remain with them."