Pascal Blasio convicted following New Ferry explosion in 2017
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We have today, Monday 14 October, welcomed the conviction of businessman Pascal Blasio following an explosion in New Ferry, Wirral, over two-and-a-half years ago.
Following a trial lasting nearly three weeks Blasio, 57, of Rainham, Gillingham, Kent, was found guilty of causing an explosion likely to endanger life when he appeared at Liverpool Crown Court.
He was also found guilty of fraud in relation to an insurance claim submitted to NFU Mutual following the explosion.
The case was adjourned until next Wednesday (23 October) for pre-sentence reports to be prepared.
The prosecution followed a gas explosion which occurred at a furniture shop called ‘Homes in Style’, on Bebington Road, at the junction of Boundary Road and Circular Drive, New Ferry, on the evening of Saturday 25th March 2017.
As a result of the blast over 80 people were injured and damage was caused to over 60 homes, shops and businesses in the town centre.
At a previous hearing the company who supplied the gas to the property, Contract Natural Gas (CNG), pleaded guilty to an offence under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
CNG were fined a total of £320,000 and ordered to pay £50,000 towards the prosecution costs.
Blasio, who owned and was the sole director of Homes in Style, denied being responsible for causing the explosion and making a fraudulent insurance claim and the matter went to trial.
He was convicted on both counts today.
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.
“I would like to thank my team of detectives and our colleagues at the Crown Prosecution Service who have worked tirelessly to bring this case to court. I would also like to thank our colleagues at the Health and Safety Executive, Wirral Council, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service for their assistance with this investigation.
“This has been a complex and difficult investigation which has involved a team of detectives working round-the-clock to secure the evidence to bring this case to court and secure justice for the people affected.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the public – particularly the community of New Ferry and those directly affected – for their patience and understanding during this lengthy investigation.
“I hope that today’s verdict means that the people of New Ferry can now start to move on and rebuild their lives.”
Ian Mullen, Incident Investigation Officer for Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service continually work alongside Merseyside Police, the Health and Safety Executive, Local Authorities and other key partners when incidents like this occur. Dedicated staff are committed to ensuring the public are kept as safe as possible in the communities in which they live and anybody who deliberately sets a fire or causes an explosion in order to commit a criminal act will be investigated fully. Those that break the law will be prosecuted and evidence obtained from the scene will be presented in court, as in this case to assist with securing a conviction.”
Wirral Council leader, Councillor Pat Hackett, said: "For many of those affected by the explosion on March 25 2017 this verdict will bring the curtain down on one of the most traumatic effects of the incident. Ever since that night, the questions 'how did this happen?' and 'who was responsible?' have cast a shadow over residents and business owners and in many cases served as an obstacle to their ability to recover, rebuild and move on.
"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 and I am happy that this verdict will mean many people can draw a line under this part of the incident and continue to move forward with more certainty and confidence.”