York & North Yorkshire

Haxby fatal gas explosion scene 'resembled plane crash'

Paul Wilmott Image copyright North Yorkshire Police
Image caption Paul Wilmott was a specialist sound engineer from York who was described as "extremely kind"

A paramedic called to the scene of a gas blast that left a man dead has told an inquest he thought the devastation was the result of a plane crash.

Paul Wilmott, 63, died in the explosion at his home in Haxby, near York, on 19 February 2016, which was caused by the fracture of a corroded gas pipe.

One house was "completely missing" and others were left seriously damaged, the inquest in York heard.

Andrew Hewitson said: "It's something I've never seen before."

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The Yorkshire Ambulance Service paramedic told the jury: "My first personal thought was it was a possible plane crash, the way the house had caved in.

"The street was covered with debris, cars were covered with concrete.

"Windows looked to be blown in, all the glass was shattered. Complete devastation."

Image caption The blast completely destroyed Mr Wilmott's home and severely damaged neighbouring properties

Michael Jamieson, a watch manager at North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, told the inquest the scene was "almost like an airstrike".

"There was virtually no house left," he said.

"I've been to gas explosions before but I've never seen something with that level of destruction."

Mr Jamieson said he found Mr Wilmott's body underneath rubble at the back of the house, on Springwood.

Mr Wilmott died of multiple fractures of the skull and injuries to the brain consistent with having been sustained in a domestic explosion, the jury heard.

A statement from Mr Wilmott's partner, Olivia Costello, was read out to the jury in which she said the pair had noticed a "very extreme and pungent" smell in the house before the blast.

They thought it was "caused by a dead ants' nest in the wall".

Coroner Rob Turnbull said an inquiry found the copper pipe fractured at a point where two concrete floor slabs met and had moved "possibly as a result of bad weather".

The inquest continues.

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