Poole explosion: Ex-husband jailed for blowing up house

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Media captionPoole house explosion captured on CCTV

A man who blew up his marital home while his ex-wife was downstairs has been jailed for five years and four months.

Ian and Elaine Clowes converted their home in Poole, Dorset, into two separate flats following their divorce.

Clowes, 68, ignited a gas cylinder in October 2018 to stop her from owning the whole building, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.

He admitted arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Image copyright Dorset Police
Image caption Ian Clowes was “motivated by malice”, a judge said

The explosion on Sterte Road on 22 October caused more than £600,000 worth of damage, the court was told.

Mr Clowes, who was upstairs when the butane canister ignited, suffered severe burns in the blast and spent weeks in an induced coma.

His wife was rescued uninjured from the rubble-filled downstairs bedroom by firefighters, the court was told.

Stuart Ellacott, prosecuting, said a neighbouring house which sustained “catastrophic” damage was uninsured.

Image copyright DWFRS
Image caption The explosion caused the building to partially collapse

The court heard firefighters found two canisters in Clowes’ flat, with one “still venting gas” after the valve had been opened.

Clowes was heard to say, “I don’t want to be here anymore – I just wanted to die”, as he was treated at the scene, Mr Ellacott said.

He said the defendant had originally owned the whole building, but a court ordered his wife could take possession of the house after paying him £65,000.

The explosion happened on the day the property was due to be transferred.

Robert Grey, mitigating, said his client was remorseful and the act was “out of character”.

He said Clowes did not remember anything around the time of the explosion but accepted he must have released the valve.

Passing sentence, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said Clowes must have known his wife was in the flat downstairs when he detonated the gas canister.

He added: “This case was motivated by a degree of malice – you did not want your wife to get the house.”

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