Huge gas blast which killed two year old at his Oldham home is being treated as possible murder


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The Independent Online

A huge gas blast which killed a two year old at his home is being treated by police as possible murder.

Detectives are waiting doctors’ permission to question a neighbour of toddler Jamie Heaton who died when an explosion ripped through terraced houses in the Shaw area of Oldham, Greater Manchester.

Andrew Partington, 27, is recovering in hospital after suffering severe burns in the explosion which was compared by senior officers to the IRA bomb which devastated central Manchester in 1996.

The unemployed joiner is understood to have been involved in a domestic argument with his partner who left the house with her five children the day before the blast.

It emerged today that Jamie’s mother Michelle only survived “by chance” because she had been hanging washing on the line when the homes were destroyed. Jamie had been inside watching television.

Steve Heywood, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: "We have had some information to suggest it may not be accidental so we are treating it as a suspicious death and therefore a homicide investigation is undertaken."

Mr Partington is under sedation and unconscious after being airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital where police are by his bedside waiting to ask “significant questions”.

Neighbours said he had only moved into the street six weeks ago. Officers have already begun questioning his partner Tanya Williamson.

Tributes including toys, cards and flowers were piling up at the site of the blast which reduced three houses to rubble and damaged several others. Residents left homeless will be unable to return until their premises are checked by structural engineers.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons: “I am sure the whole House will want to send a message of sympathy and condolences to the family of that poor two-year-old who lost their life.”