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Man jailed after endangering lives in house explosion

A 36-year-old man has today (Monday 23 March) been sentenced to eight-and-a-half years in prison for endangering lives when he caused an explosion in Bristol last year.

Emergency services were called to an address in Hartcliffe, just before 8pm on 23 February last year, following an explosion causing a huge amount of damage to four addresses.

Jurors were told James Toogood caused the incident by creating a flammable atmosphere in his flat, by using butane gas to produce cannabis hash oil at a property in Whitchurch Lane.

The explosion ripped through the block of flats and left one neighbour having to jump to safety onto a trampoline in the garden.

Dozens of butane gas canisters were found at the scene by investigators and the jury was told the estimated cost of the damage was approximately £260,000.

CCTV footage of the aftermath was shown to the jury during the course of the nine-day trial at Bristol Crown Court.

James Toogood

Toogood, now of Currells Lane in Felton, was found guilty on Wednesday 18 March of one count of arson where life was endangered. He pleaded guilty to production of a class B drug.

Laura Hawkins, of the same address, was also found guilty of permitting the production of a class B drug at her flat. The 39-year-old was handed a 15-month jail sentence.

Laura Hawkins

DC Lee Townsend said: “James Toogood’s reckless actions put not only his life, but innocent neighbours’ lives at risk. It is only through luck that his dangerous activities did not cause a fatality.

“A substantial amount of damage was done to the property in Whitchurch Lane and the shocking photographs in the immediate aftermath are a testament of how serious an incident this was.

“I am pleased that the seriousness of this offence has been reflected in the sentence handed out to him.”