New Ferry Jury Dismissed

1 February 2019, 16:13 | Updated: 1 February 2019, 16:16

New Ferry explosion aftermath

The jury in the trial of a Wirral furniture shop owner accused of causing an explosion which injured 81 people has been discharged.

57 year old Pascal Blasio was charged with causing the gas blast at the Homes In Style shop in New Ferry in March 2017, and of a count of fraud relating to an insurance claim made afterwards.

After deliberating for 14 hours, jurors at Liverpool Crown Court were asked whether they would be able to reach verdicts on which at least 10 of them were agreed, if given more time.

The foreman told the court they would not.

A number of people who had been affected by the blast sat in the public gallery of court, with Blasio's wife and two other relatives sitting behind them.

The trial, which lasted three weeks, heard the damage caused had been "almost apocalyptic" with 63 properties destroyed or damaged.

Court heard it was "sheer luck" that no one was killed in the blast, which happened at about 9.15pm on a Saturday.

Among the 81 injured was Lewis Jones, 21, who suffered a serious brain injury and was "left clinging to life".

Windows of houses, a pub and the front of a Chinese restaurant, which was full of diners, were blown in by the explosion.

The court had heard Blasio's business was failing and he was "on the point of bankruptcy" at the time of the last.

A retrial has been set for the 23rd of September.