Prison warning for gas sniffing flat firestarter

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A gas-sniffing addict’s flat went up in flames after he messed around with a cigarette lighter while inhaling butane.

David Humble, 23, fired up the lighter to full blast while “tooting” the gas, causing an explosion which rocked the first-floor flat.

His terrified brother and a friend jumped for their lives from a window 15ft from ground level. They were both injured and Humble suffered burns to his hands and face.

Firefighters and the ambulance service were called to the four-storey block of flats in Unitarian Court, Scarborough, where tenants were evacuated from the building.

Humble was taken to hospital with brother Nathan and friend Nicholas Dodsworth. Humble - formerly of Abbots Walk, Whitby - was later arrested and charged with arson and being reckless as to whether the lives of others would be endangered.

Dodsworth, 20, of North Marine Road, Scarborough – currently serving a nine-year sentence for kidnapping an elderly couple at their holiday home suffered burns to his face, arms and hands, and was kept in hospital for a week.

Humble appeared at York Crown Court for trial last week denying the charge saying the fire, on January 2 last year, was sparked by a faulty phone charger.

Prosecuting barrister Paul Newcombe said Humble turned up the dial on the lighter, producing a huge flame which nearly caught his face while Dodsworth and his friend pleaded with Humble to turn the flame down and open a window but he ignored them and lit a roll-up cigarette.

“Suddenly everything was on fire,” said Mr Newcombe. “A fireball erupted - the defendant was literally playing with fire in circumstances where sniffing butane was clearly a reckless act and endangered the lives of 12 other people who lived in the flats.”

He added Humble - who has since been living rough in Scarborough - “didn’t care a jot” about the danger to others and risk of damage to property because he was about to be evicted by landlords the Home Group who had to spend £3330 on the fire damaged bedroom plus another £6000 cleaning the flat.

The court also heard epileptic Humble went through 15 cans of butane a week, had been inhaling gas since he was 14 and his flat was full of flammable rubbish and a “horrifying” collection of 700 empty gas canisters.

Humble found guilty by unanimous verdict will be sentenced on June 5.