Liverpool

New Ferry gas blast: Accused calls scam claim 'ridiculous'

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Media captionCCTV footage of the explosion has been shown to the jury at Liverpool Crown Court

The man accused of causing an explosion that injured 81 people told a court it was "ridiculous" to say he blew up his shop as an insurance scam.

Pascal Blasio, 57, of Gillingham, Kent, told Liverpool Crown Court: "I've had to live with this for two years."

He also said he did not know there was a capped-off gas pipe in the shop.

Mr Blasio denies causing the blast in New Ferry, Wirral, on 25 March 2017 to avoid bankruptcy. He also denies fraud relating to an insurance claim.

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Image caption Eighty-one people were injured and 63 properties were destroyed in the explosion

The court previously heard the "apocalyptic" explosion that caused "utter devastation" was an insurance job that went badly wrong and it was "a miracle" no-one died.

Mr Blasio said he did not deliberately turn on the gas supply - which came into contact with an "unidentified ignition source" and caused the blast at 21:15 GMT - and had "no idea" who did.

As he finished giving evidence, he added: "Why would I blow up a bloody shop? For what, for a scam, for insurance?

"Blowing up a shop, it's just ridiculous."

Asked why his wife told the office manager for local Labour MP Alison McGovern the shop would be closing down because not enough people were coming in, he said she had been trying to get a reduction on business rates.

He said: "It's business, we use what tools we get."

Image copyright PA
Image caption Pascal Blasio denies causing the "apocalyptic" explosion

The court was told earlier in the trial that Mr Blasio was losing at least £700 per month and was on the verge of bankruptcy at the time of the blast.

The trial continues.

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