George Hinds, 2, died after Darren Greenham, 45, cut a pipe which caused a gas explosion (Picture: PA)
A ‘neighbour from hell’ has been jailed for 15 years after causing a gas explosion which killed a two-year old boy.
Darren Greenham, 45, used an angle grinder to cut a pipe while drunk and on drugs in May 2021 because he wanted to sell it for scrap metal.
George Hinds, 2, who lived next door, died in the explosion in Heysham, Lancashire, on May 16 last year.
The little boy’s parents, Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds, were also injured as well as four others, as the fireball ripped through their semi-detached home.
At Preston Crown Court on Wednesday, Greenham pleaded guilty to manslaughter, damaging a gas meter and theft of gas in August.
Watching the sentencing from the public gallery, George’s heartbroken dad clutched a Paw Patrol toy, as he sat with his wife and their neighbour.
He told the court: ‘By Darren Greenham cutting a gas pipe to make a few quid I have lost my son, my absolute world.’
The court heard how the explosion, which happened at 2.35am on May 16, 2021 completely destroyed Greenham’s home.
George’s dad said he had lost ‘my absolute world’ (Picture: PA)
Darren Greenham, 45, was sentenced to 15 years in prison (Picture: PA)
Two neighbouring houses were also badly damaged and a further 55 properties in the area were affected.
Sentencing Greenham for manslaughter, Judge Robert Altham said: ‘Mr Greenham was a selfish and disruptive neighbour.
‘He lived his life without regard for the comfort of those who were unfortunate enough to live adjacent to him.’
He went on to praise both of George’s parents, who have been living in a caravan since the explosion.
Their ‘incomprehension’ that anyone could put the lives of so many at risk for the sake of stealing ‘a few lengths of copper piping’ was shared with the court.
Mum Vicky described how Greenham was a ‘neighbour from hell’.
In a statement read out to the court, she said: ‘After the explosion, being trapped in the rubble was the most scared I had ever been in my life.
‘This was until I arrived at the hospital to be told that George had died. Never ever have I felt so scared as in that moment of my life.’
Timothy Cray, prosecuting, said Greenham had been facing eviction from his house and was cutting pipes with the intention of making money by selling them on.
Greenham, who showed no emotion in the dock, was given concurrent sentences of one month for the charges of damaging the meter and theft of gas.
Speaking outside court after the sentencing, detective chief inspector Jane Webb said: ‘Darren Greenham is a purely selfish, self-centred, ignorant man whose blind stupidity of thinking that he could sell gas pipes to just make a bit of money was completely reckless with no regard for anybody’s safety.
‘It’s his actions that have caused the death of George which are really unforgivable.’
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