Man lit a cigarette as flat filled up with gas

Bishop was convicted at the High Court in Edinburgh.
Bishop was convicted at the High Court in Edinburgh.

A SUICIDAL man has admitted putting his neighbours’ lives in danger after waking up in a gas-filled flat and lighting a cigarette.

Jamie Bishop had earlier cut a pipe allowing gas to escape into his Broxburn home before the blast which shook the building on April 1 this year.

Bishop, 20, told police that he had intended to take his own life.

Advocate depute Stewart Ronnie told the High Court in Edinburgh: “He stated it never crossed his mind that anyone else could be hurt.”

Neighbours heard a very loud bang and furniture moved as the building shook with a cloud of smoke coming from Bishop’s ground floor flat in Greendykes Road.

A neighbour living upstairs saw that the windows of Bishop’s flat had been blown out and flames were coming from the house.

Bishop was seen looking petrified and with his arms apparently “singed”.

He told a police officer that he turned the gas on and fell asleep and after waking lit a cigarette as he always did.

Bishop, who had been freed from Livingston Sheriff Court two months earlier on bail, revealed he had damaged a gas pipe in the kitchen.

The flat was found to be extensively damaged, with debris from the blast being thrown up to 30 metres.

Mr Ronnie said: “The building is considered to be not worth repairing.

“A rebuild cost has been valued at £155,412. In all probability the likelihood is that the building will require to be rebuilt.”

Three tenants have had to be rehoused and were not allowed to retrieve their possessions because of health and safety concerns.

The prosecutor said: “One resident was uninsured and his pet cat died of smoke inhalation, causing further upset.”

Bishop told police that he had put his dog in the bathroom and put towels at the door and opened the window in a bid not to harm his pet.

He said he had gone to sleep in the living room “with the intention of never waking up”, the court heard.

Mr Ronnie said: “Bishop stated that on waking up, and in a hazy state of mind, he lit a cigarette causing the explosion.”

He has since undergone skin grafts to his left hand because of burn injuries he suffered in the explosion.

He said he had been feeling suicidal because of family issues and a split with his girlfriend.

Bishop was taken to a psychiatric ward at St Johns Hospital, in Livingston, and later that month threatened to harm himself and others if released.

He was discharged and detained by the police and is currently in Polmont Young Offenders’ Institution.

A psychiatrist who saw him came to the view that he remained a high risk of causing harm, both to himself and to others “due to misadventure, but not due to psychiatric illness”.

Bishop admitted culpably and recklessly damaging a pipe letting gas escape and lighting a cigarette causing an explosion which resulted in significant damage to property and endangered lives.

A judge deferred sentence on Bishop for the preparation of a background report. Lord Ericht ordered he be remanded in custody.

newsen@edinburghnews.com