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Postman admits gas blast at home; Street in chaos after explosion.

Byline: Hilary Clixby

A POSTMAN who cheated death in a gas explosion which destroyed his home yesterday admitted he caused the blast.

Sean Cavens had to be pulled from the wreckage of the end-terrace house in Twentieth Avenue, Blyth, Northumberland, after the building was ripped apart.

He suffered 40% burns and spent several weeks at the Royal Victoria Infirmary in Newcastle before being discharged to stay with relatives.

An investigation launched by police and the Health and Safety Executive ruled out any fault on the gas meter and Cavens was arrested in March.

He was due to stand trial at Newcastle Crown Court yesterday on charges of arson with intent and arson being reckless whether life would be endangered.

But instead he admitted an amended count of destroying or damaging property being reckless whether life would be endangered.

Cavens, now living in Burnside, Bedlington, was further remanded on bail after sentence was adjourned for six weeks for reports. Judge David Hodson said: "The court will be hugely assisted by a psychiatric and psychological assessment of the defendant in this case."

The explosion on the evening of April 16 last year a left the Blyth Valley Council-owned property looking like a scene from a war zone.

The roof was blown off while the front of the house collapsed, exposing the living room and bedroom. The property, and an adjacent home, had to be demolished.

Cavens's neighbour Charles Marshall, 76, escaped injury but had to be rehoused in sheltered accommodation.

Around 10 surrounding properties were evacuated as emergency services secured the area.

Cavens is thought to have moved into Twentieth Avenue just weeks before the blast, having separated from his wife.

Last night a Blyth Council spokeswoman said: "Insurance money for the destroyed house was topped up from the housing revenue account and they are being replaced with two, energy-efficient, three-bedroomed properties, the total value of the rebuild being pounds 298,000."

CAPTION(S):

CHEATED DEATH Sean Cavens suffered 40% burns in the explosion.; AFTERMATH Firefighters dampening down the wreckage of the home. Picture: John Tuttiett
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 15, 2008
Words:344
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