Furniture shop owner found guilty of deliberately causing explosion that injured 81 people
14 October 2019, 18:15 | Updated: 14 October 2019, 18:17
A shop owner has been found guilty of injuring 81 people in a deliberate explosion that was an "insurance job gone wrong".
The shop owner, who was on the brink of bankruptcy, has been found guilty of causing the blast, which damaged or destroyed 63 properties at about 9.15pm on a Saturday night.
Among the injured was 21-year-old Lewis Jones, who suffered a serious brain injury and has not been able to work since the incident.
Blasio was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of deliberately causing an explosion in the hopes of receiving more than £50,000 in insurance money.
The 57-year-old, of Gillingham, Kent, was found guilty of causing an explosion likely to endanger life and of fraud in relation to an insurance claim on Mondat, Merseyside Police said.
He was accused of deliberately causing the blast at his Homes In Style furniture store in New Ferry, Wirral, on March 25 2017, when he was a week or two away from insolvency, and then filing an insurance claim for more than £50,000.
Assistant Chief Constable Natalie Perischine said: "The actions of Pascal Blasio that night were nothing short of reckless. It is only by sheer luck that nobody was killed that night because of his actions.
"Over two and a half years on, dozens of people are still continuing to recover from the physical and mental scars they suffered that night and many people have still not been able to return to their homes and businesses. New Ferry has, in effect, been left to pick up the pieces of Blasio's actions."
Wirral Council leader Pat Hackett said: "The guilty verdict today will bring to an end this particular chapter of the New Ferry story, but the story is far from over.
"Work is advanced on a residential masterplan for the area, which will provide a key trigger for the wider regeneration of New Ferry.
"But the area's real strength over the last two years has been its people - the resolve, determination and resilience they have shown from the very first seconds after the explosion has been inspirational."
Blasio is due to be sentenced on Wednesday October 23.
Before the trial, Contract Natural Gas pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 by failing to ensure that gas supply pipes were disconnected.
The company was fined £320,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 towards the prosecution costs.