A man who killed his neighbour’s two-year-old son when he blew up his home in a gas explosion has been jailed for 10 years.
Andrew Partington, 28, devastated a row of terraced houses in Oldham last year after his girlfriend left him and took their children with her. Police officers who arrived at the house after the explosion described it like a “scene from a war zone”.
The night before the blast on 26 June, Partington had cut two gas pipes in the house he shared with Tania Williams and sent her a series of text messages threatening to destroy the building.
After letting the property fill with gas overnight, Partington changed his mind when he awoke in the morning, Manchester Crown Court heard. But not long after cutting off the gas supply and opening the windows he lit a cigarette, causing the explosion.
Jamie Heaton, a toddler who was watching TV next door, was killed. His mother survived the blast because she had gone outside into the garden to hang up some washing.
Partington, who has six children, was rescued by emergency services. He suffered 40 per cent burns and a broken back.
During the trial, the court heard how Partington had sent a series of text messages to Ms Williams after drunkenly cutting the gas pipes in the home that they shared.
He wrote: “So I guess I have to show you what you meant to me. Never cheated on you. Always loved you. Get f***ed now. Goodbye.”
In the next message, he said: “Told you next time you leave, house goes up with me. You left your kids with no dad no home. Goodbye. Boom. Gas pipes cut. Already filled up. Boom.”
Adam Roxborough, defending, said Partington had not intended to light the gas. “When he lit the cigarette it was not a deliberate attempt to ignite the gas. That desire had come and gone since he had slept,” he said.
Sentencing Partington, Mr Justice Hamblen said: “The resulting scene of the devastation resembled a bomb site and in some senses it was. It was in effect a bomb that you created and detonated.”
The judge accepted it appeared that Partington had a change of heart in blowing up the house when he woke up the next day but said lighting a cigarette was “highly reckless”. He added: “As a result of your reckless actions you have caused the death of Jamie. You have taken away his life and a large part of his parents and siblings’ lives.”
Partington had earlier pleaded guilty to manslaughter.
Jamie’s parents, Kenny and Michelle Heaton, watched the proceedings in the court. In a statement following the sentencing, they paid tribute to their “beautiful, healthy and loving little boy”. They said: “We often wondered what the future would hold for Jamie and his achievements. His great-grandma said he was a ‘genius’. Unfortunately, we will never find out.”