Jury discharged in Wirral gas blast trial

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Pascal BlasioImage source, PA
Image caption,
Pascal Blasio had denied causing the explosion before filing an insurance claim

A jury has failed to reach verdicts in the case of a furniture shop owner accused of causing an explosion which injured 81 people.

Pascal Blasio, 57, had denied causing the blast at his Homes In Style shop in New Ferry, Wirral, in order to claim on his insurance.

The explosion, on 25 March 2017, destroyed or damaged 63 properties.

Mr Blasio, of Gillingham, Kent, also denied a charge of fraud relating to an insurance claim filed afterwards.

Following a four-week trial at trial Liverpool Crown Court, the jury were discharged after failing to agree on verdicts.

The prosecution will now seek a retrial.

Image source, PA
Image caption,
The blast left 81 people injured and destroyed or damaged 63 properties

Mr Blasio, wearing a navy blue shirt and jeans, was given bail and the retrial was provisionally set for 23 September.

The court previously heard the damage caused had been "almost apocalyptic".

Nigel Lawrence QC, prosecuting, said it was only "sheer luck" that no one was killed in the blast, which happened at about 21:15 GMT on a Saturday.

Windows of houses, a pub and the front of a Chinese restaurant, which was full of diners, were blown in by the explosion.

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