Couple Reveal Anguish As Long Wait For Answers Over Explosion Which Destroyed Home Goes On

Lawyers Call For HSE And Procurator Fiscal To Disclose Investigation Information

24.06.2014

A couple still trying to come to terms with the physical and psychological injuries they suffered when their house was destroyed by a suspected gas explosion two years ago have spoken of their anguish as their long wait for answers regarding the cause of the blast continues.

Sheila McDonald, 75, has revealed how she felt lucky to be alive after the blast in March 2012 catapulted her out of the cottage’s front window and left the property in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, which she owned with her partner Daniel Martyn, so devastated that the local council ordered its demolition.

While the property has since been rebuilt, Sheila and her partner Daniel Martyn continue to suffer as a result of the injuries and psychological trauma they sustained in the explosion. They instructed serious injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell Scotland to help them with their recovery and rehabilitation and to gain justice in relation to the devastating blast which completely transformed their lives.

The couple, along with their lawyers, are now urging the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and the Procurator Fiscal (PF) to provide more information from their investigations into the incident as more than two years on no firm conclusions have so far been communicated.

Laura McCallum, the serious injury lawyer based at Irwin Mitchell Scotland’s Glasgow office who is helping Mrs McDonald and Mr Martyn in their legal battle, said: “The past two years have been incredibly difficult for our clients, who have had to try to overcome the injuries they suffered and also try to come to terms with the trauma of losing their home.

“While their property has been rebuilt, there remains a huge question mark regarding how this terrifying explosion happened and who is responsible. We understand that the HSE has prepared a report which was sent to the PF in late 2013, but there have been no developments since.

“Our clients deserve answers and financial support which will help them access the specialist therapies and rehabilitation they need to move on with their lives following this explosion. We will continue to push for information on their behalf as we seek to help with their recovery.”

Mrs McDonald and Mr Martyn suffered neck, back and shoulder injuries, as well as burns and psychological trauma causing nightmares and flashbacks, when the explosion ripped through their property as they sat in the living room on March 25th 2012. While Daniel was thrown to the floor by the blast, the power of it was so strong that Sheila was catapulted through a window and into the front garden.

The pair were treated at Wishaw General Hospital following the incident and had to live with Martyn’s nephew before moving to another property while their new home was built.

Mrs McDonald, a retired schoolteacher, recalls: “The whole incident was such a shock and it is difficult when I think back and realise that the place we called home was completely destroyed.

“The effects on us were massive – I still get pains in my shoulders and neck, and I still have issues with movement in my left hand as well. Danny has also struggled physically since and now is only able to walk for a short length of time before becoming tired. Both of us are still struggling to sleep even now, as our minds just wander back to what happened.

“Everything we enjoyed has also been ruined. At the time we owned five Afghan hounds, and had competed at Crufts in the past, but two of the dogs had to be put down as a result of the incident. We have one of them back living with us but the loss of the others – two had to be adopted because we didn’t have a house – is incredibly hard to bear.

“It is just so hard to come to terms with how the explosion has affected our lives, particularly when we have been told nothing about the investigations and are not getting the answers that we desperately deserve. It has been more than two years – why are the authorities not telling us anything?”

Laura McCallum of Irwin Mitchell added: “We are desperate to help our clients move on and access the funds they need to secure ongoing rehabilitation services for the injuries they continue to endure, but the lack of disclosure of information simply means we are left in limbo.

“We would urge the HSE and PF to work closely to provide the answers as to what happened which will not only allow our clients to come to terms with the incident, but also ensure that lessons can be learned which may prevent this from being repeated in the future.”