Jail for gas sniffer who caused explosion

A gas-sniffing addict has been jailed for over two years after causing a fire while inhaling butane inside his flat.

David Humble, 23, was fiddling around with a cigarette lighter and turned the flame up to full blast while “tooting” the gas, causing an explosion which rocked the apartment.

His terrified brother and a friend jumped for their lives from a window 15ft from ground level. They were both injured and Humble - formerly of Abbots Walk, Whitby - 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 Humble was given on-the-spot treatment and tenants were evacuated from the building.

Humble was later arrested and charged with arson and being reckless as to whether the lives of others would be endangered.

He was given a 27-month jail sentence by judge Neil Davey QC at Bradford Crown Court on Friday after a jury found him guilty following a trial in York last month.

The fire happened on January 2 last year, when Humble, holed up in his bedroom during a gas-sniffing session, had turned up the dial on his cigarette lighter, producing a huge flame which nearly caught his face.

Humble’s brother and friend asked him to turn the flame down and open a window to let the gas out, but he ignored them and went to light a roll-up cigarette.

Prosecutor Paul Newcombe said a fireball erupted with such a bang that the flat actually rocked.

The court heard that Humble - who was evicted from the social-housing flat and began living rough in Scarborough - went through 15 cans of butane a week and had been inhaling gas since he was 14 years’ old.

When police searched the flat they found it crammed full of flammable rubbish and a “horrifying” collection of 700 empty gas canisters.

The fire caused £3,330 of damage to the bedroom and a further £6,000 had to be spent on a full-scale clean-up of the flat.