Man blew up home with him and ex-wife still inside to stop her getting house

A vengeful ex-husband who blew up his marital home with him and his former wife inside as he did not want her to get the property has been jailed.

Ian Clowes, 68, was due to be evicted on the day he triggered a huge gas explosion which ripped the house apart and almost killed him and Elaine Clowes.

The 63-year-old woman was found alive under a pile of rubble in her bedroom while Clowes suffered serious burns that caused him to spend six weeks in a medically induced coma.

Clowes was today jailed for five years and four months at Bournemouth Crown Court.

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said his crimes had been "wicked" and caused significant harm to his former partner.

Judge Fuller said: "This offence was motivated by a degree of malice. You did not want your wife to get the house that you had bought.

"This was a wicked thing to have done adding to which the psychological cost which was huge."

Clowes will also have to pay compensation to both his ex-wife and his next door neighbour who was home at the time. An exact fee is yet to be agreed.

A court heard that after the couple's marriage ended in 2015, the semi-detached home they shared in Poole, Dorset, was converted into two flats that the pair lived in.

But Clowes, a house clearer, suffered "severe financial difficulties" and allowed the insurance on the building to run out.

A court order was issued allowing Mrs Clowes to gain control of both flats, with a fee of £65,000 paid to her ex-husband.

She had planned to sell the upstairs flat and stay in her own but Clowes was said to be unhappy about the arrangement.

Stuart Ellacott, prosecuting, said he acted out of malice in destroying the 1930s property by placing two gas canisters in his all-electric flat and opening up the valve of one and igniting it.

Mr Ellacott added: "There is a level of malice with this case.

"It may be that he did not intend to cause injury to Mrs Clowes but he did not want her to get the house.

"The malice comes from him not wanting her to get what he thought she should not."

He said alleged that two days before the blast Clowes was seen to enter the property with the two gas canisters.

Mr Ellacott added that Clowes had no reason to have gas canisters in his flat as it was all-electric.

He said on the afternoon of October 22 last year Mrs Clowes described hearing a noise from above and then the ceiling coming crashing down in her flat.

The emergency services were able to get her out of her bedroom after forcing open the window and she was lifted over rubble.

Mr Ellacott said: "The blast caused the total distraction of the defendant's flat and he was saved from the upstairs.

"He had to be airlifted to hospital where he remained until January.

"He had 30% burns and was in an induced coma for around five or six weeks."

The fire service found a blue gas cylinder in the defendant's flat that was 'still venting'. A red cylinder was also present but did not contribute to the explosion.

CCTV footage captured the moment of the explosion. The roof can be seen being torn clean off and a thick cloud of black smoke immediately engulfing the remains of the property.

In a victim impact statement that was read out in court, Mrs Clowes said she could never imagine her ex-husband being so vengeful.

She said: "He has shown little regard for me in recent years but I would never suspect he would do something like this.

"Emotionally I have really suffered with stress.

"I have not been able to search for things that are sentimental to me like jewellery. Someone has also now broken into the site and stolen those things."

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the Clowes began their relationship in 2004 and married soon after.

In 2009 Mrs Clowes was diagnosed with cancer and in 2010 the business they ran together folded due to financial difficulties.

The couple filed for divorce in 2015 after he accused her of being unfaithful.

Clowes, who was dressed in a dark polo shirt, previously admitted to an offence of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

Robert Grey, defending, said his client 'could not remember the events prior, during or after the incident due to his injuries'.

He also claimed Clowes 'never meant to injure anyone let alone risk any life' and had suffered 30 per cent burns in the blast.

Mr Grey said:"Due to the nature of his injuries Mr Clowes is unable to remember the events prior, during or after the incident.

"He accepts that he must have released the valve but does not remember doing so.

"He says he never meant to cause injury to anyone let alone risk any life."

He added that the defendant suffered from 'post traumatic amnesia' and was going through an 'acute stress reaction' at the time of the blast.

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