Jamie Heaton gas blast death: 'Jail term will not bring him back'

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Media captionJamie's parents Michelle and Kenny describe the moment of the gas blast

After toddler Jamie Heaton was killed in a gas blast that destroyed most of a Greater Manchester street, his parents had to wait nearly three months for answers - as the neighbour who eventually admitted causing it lay in a coma.

"Not knowing who was to blame - if anybody - I really struggled with it, it was such a hard time," father Kenny Heaton said.

But even after Andrew Partington finally pleaded guilty to manslaughter and criminal damage estimated at more than £1m in last June's explosion, things did not get any easier for the family.

Mr Heaton said: "I was hoping it would give me some closure, that I had somebody to blame, but it doesn't change anything."

'Would be frightened'

Partington was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court earlier to 10 years in prison.

Before the judge jailed Partington, Jamie's mother Michelle Heaton said: "Whatever sentence he gets it won't bring Jamie back."

The two-year-old was watching TV in the living room of their home in Buckley Street, Shaw, on 26 June, when the house collapsed around him.

Mrs Heaton, who was hanging out washing, described desperately trying to get back inside to reach Jamie.

Image caption Jamie Heaton, two, was killed in the explosion

"The door was jammed and I couldn't get in. I saw the house next door had disappeared and I just thought I had to get to him because of the loud bang, I knew he would be frightened."

Initially Mrs Heaton said she felt guilty she hadn't been in the house with Jamie.

"Since I've thought about it, it happened that quick I wouldn't have been able to do anything anyway so I don't feel guilty anymore. I wish I'd taken him with me.

"I was hopeful it was an accident and not a deliberate act," Mrs Heaton added.

After Partington, a father of six who suffered 40% burns and a broken back in the blast, admitted causing the explosion the family tried to make something good come from the tragedy.

"We're trying to stay positive," Mr Heaton said. "We're just trying to focus on the other things in life - our two other children and the charity set up in Jamie's memory."

The Jamie's Something Special Memorial Fund was set up four months after the boy's death.

Fundraising events are being planned throughout the close-knit community in an attempt to raise £50,000 to improve Bullcote Park in Heyside - the local park where Jamie took his first steps - in tribute to the youngster.

The family have already planted a tree and daffodils there in his memory.

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