Sompting home blast ‘arson’ was a DIY accident

The Argus: Damage at Mike Howard's home in Hillrise Avenue, Sompting Damage at Mike Howard's home in Hillrise Avenue, Sompting

A pizza delivery man accused of blowing up his home has had the charges against him dropped amid suggestions the explosion was caused by a DIY accident.

Mike Howard had a miracle escape when his home in Hillrise Avenue, Sompting, exploded in September.

The 54-year-old was knocked out and was only saved because his hero neighbours, including mother and son Brenda and Chris Collins, raced inside his burning home and dragged him outside.

They found him slumped unconscious on the floor inside his home and helped him to safety before Mr Howard was taken to hospital.

The windows of his house and cars parked outside were also blown out in the blast.

Mr Howard was later arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life but now Sussex Police has dropped the charges against him.

The force said there was not enough evidence to proceed with the case, but Mr Howard’s brother-in-law Don Scott said it was actually a painting and decorating accident.

Gas explosion

Mr Scott, who also lives in Sompting, said: “It emerged that Mike was decorating and a gas canister exploded.

“It was obviously an accident and there was no evidence to suggest that Mike had done anything wrong at all.

“It was a butane gas cylinder that exploded.

“But Mike does not remember what happened. He was knocked out. It is a blank.

“He says he cannot remember what he was doing or what he was working on.”

Mr Scott, 61, is now redecorating Mr Howard’s home. He hopes his brother-in-law can move back in soon.

A Sussex Police spokeswoman said: “A 54-year-old man from Sompting who was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent has been stood down from bail because of insufficient evidence.”

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