Man admits arson over bungalow explosion

Firefighters at The Crescent, Tingley.
Firefighters at The Crescent, Tingley.

A man who caused a gas explosion which ripped through his home has pleaded guilty to arson.

Richard Dickenson, 46, admitted a charge of arson being reckless as to whether life would be endangered over the incident at his one-bedroom council bungalow, when he appeared at Leeds Crown Court yesterday.

The blast tore the roof off the property at The Crescent, Tingley, on May 28.

Fire crews were called to the scene at around 9.30am when neighbours reported a huge explosion.

Dickenson appeared at court via a video link from Armley jail for a preliminary hearing.

He spoke only to confirm his name and to enter a guilty plea when the charge was put to him by the court clerk.

Dickenson’s lawyer, John Bachelor, asked for the case to be adjourned for six weeks before sentencing to allow for a psychiatric report to be prepared.

The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Peter Collier, QC, told Dickenson he will be returned to the court on July 30.

He said: “You must remain in custody until then and will receive credit for your guilty plea.”

Dickenson was taken to hospital suffering from burns and smoke inhalation following the blast.

Six neighbouring properties were evacuated but no one else was injured. Eye-witnesses said they saw 10ft-high flames lapping the roof, which has been destroyed, and fire crews from across West Yorkshire were called in to help control the blaze.

Next-door neighbours Joyce and Barry Bedford heard the blast as they were sat watching television.

Mr Bedford said: “I grabbed Joyce and pulled her out of the house and into the street where we could see huge flames and smoke everywhere.”

“Everyone was out in the street, calling the fire brigade, looking to see what was going on.”

He added: “The roof tiles were all over the place, it was smoky and black and there were massive flames.”

Neighbour, Amanda Swift, 43, said: “I was driving down the road at about half nine when I just heard this big bang, and saw these huge flames, and smoke everywhere.

“The roof had been blown off, it was horrific.”