Lawyers Call for Urgent Release Of Investigation Findings To Help Families Get Their Lives Back On Track
By Suzanne Rutter
Lawyers representing five people whose homes were destroyed in the Salford gas blast in 2010 have called for all the investigation findings to be made public after the gas engineer who had worked on the home at the centre of the explosion was sentenced after pleading guilty to a breach of gas regulations.
More than two-and-a-half years ago a gas explosion ripped through a row of terraced houses on Merlin Road in Irlam, Greater Manchester which led to 200 homes being evacuated in neighbouring streets as 40 fire fighters and emergency services fought to save people trapped in their homes, owned by City West Housing Trust.
Serious injury experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell’s Manchester office have been supporting a number of the victims since the incident and today they heard gas engineer Paul Kay, of Slater Street in Warrington, plead guilty at Manchester Crown Court to breaching Part 7 (1) of the Gas Safety (Installation and Use Regulations) 1998 for failing to support a gas meter which increased the risk of a gas leak. He was fined £1,000 and ordered to pay £500 costs.
Lawyers at the firm have now called for the Health and Safety Executive to release the findings of their investigation as a matter of urgency as they seek to help the victims with their recovery from the physical injuries and psychological scars caused by the terrible incident which rocked the quiet community.
Sabrina McCarron, a specialist serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell representing the group, said: “It’s now two-and-a-half years on from this horrific explosion and everyone is still coming to terms with the serious injuries they suffered and the psychological impact of losing their homes and many of their belongings.
“This is something they will never forget and they need access to the necessary therapy and support to help them overcome the trauma and get answers about exactly what caused the explosion. Now that the criminal trial has come to an end it is crucial that all available documents and findings of the Health and Safety investigation are made available so that we can move forward with seeking justice for our clients in civil proceedings in respect of the physical and psychological injuries they have suffered.”
Some of the families affected finally got the keys to their newly rebuilt homes back in November last year – exactly two years after the blast in Salford in which they suffered serious debilitating physical and psychological injuries.
Marie Burns was having breakfast when the explosion destroyed her home apart and left her fighting for her life. She spent more than two months in Wythenshaw Hospital and Hope Hospital where she was treated for 30 per cent burns and serious lung damage, before attending the Heartly Green care home in Irlam for rehabilitation from her injuries.
The 75-year-old said: “The past two years have been the most traumatic of my life, something I don’t think I’ll ever get over.
“I have vivid memories of making my breakfast on the day of the explosion, of a deafening bang and then someone sitting me down in the middle of the rubble before an ambulance was called, but after that I don’t remember a thing.
“I was in a coma for three months and when I woke up I had to deal with really painful injuries and the fact I’d lost everything I owned. Everything was destroyed – from family photographs to all my clothes and sentimental things I’d collected over the years. I had to rebuild my life from scratch.
“I had to learn to walk again and I’ve had to come to terms with the horrible facial and emotional scars I suffered. It is a relief now the court case is over and it feels like the next step on the road to recovery.”
Mum-of-three Sharon Girenti’s home was badly damaged in the explosion which happened in the house next door to hers.
Sharon, 54, said: “This has been the most horrific experience of our lives. Although we have to be thankful we are still here to tell the tale nothing can replace what we have lost or what we have been through.
“It has been stressful and worrying time wondering whether we would be able move back to the street or not but we are glad to be back now.
“I’m relieved and happy the gas engineer has now been convicted because it gives us a sense of justice for what we have been through. Hopefully now we can start to move on with our lives.”
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