Jail for Burnley man in suicide gas blast threat

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A BURNLEY man who threatened to blow himself up by igniting gas pipes at his home, has been jailed.

Ryan Hill (25) severed the gas supply in an apparent suicide bid which forced police to evacuate neighbours in a 100ft radius around his Westgate flat, Burnley Crown Court was told.

The defendant told police he would set light to the gas and kill himself during a one-and-a-half-hour stand-off last October, the court heard.

Hill pleased guilty to causing a public nuisance and threatening to destroy or damage property in an earlier hearing at Burnley Magistrates’ Court.

Sentencing, Judge Beverly Lunt said: “This has been happening now for three years – hoax calls and threatening to throw yourself off motorway bridges.

“But this is far more serious because what you did was create an obvious and serious risk to other people, to the police and to your neighbours and anybody living on the street.

“Gas is such a highly dangerous entity. One spark and several properties would have gone up and possibly people killed.”

Judge Lunt said the time had come where the public needed protecting and sentenced him to two years and eight months in jail.

The court heard how police were alerted to the incident when Hill’s friend rang 999 to say he had started a gas leak in his flat and was threatening to kill himself on October 17th, last year.

David Macro (prosecuting) said officers could smell gas at the address and were forced to evacuate people from their homes and set up a cordon 100ft either side of the property at 9-50pm.

Firefighters and gas engineers were drafted in and the gas supply was cut off to Hill’s flat as specialist police negotiators tried to talk him round.

Despite continuing to threaten to ignite the gas, Hill finally gave himself up to police and walked out of the front door of the flat at 11-20pm.

A suicide note had been left inside by Hill which read “I’ve done this because I don’t want to hurt any more or hurt those people that I truly love.”

The court was told that Hill had a record which included criminal damage, affray, theft, attempted robbery with an imitation firearm and public nuisance by threatening to jump off a bridge.

Adam Watkins (defending) said: “These were plainly serious and troubling offences.”

But he explained his client had battled with clinical depression which occasionally overwhelmed him. The solicitor said matters had been made worse by misusing alcohol.

When charged, he said Hill had apologised for wasting police time and said sorry for causing fear to people in the community.

Mr Watkins said his client sought help from Inspire drug and alcohol service in Burnley.