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Man jailed for blowing up home while estranged wife was inside

UK News | Published:

Ian Clowes pleaded guilty to arson reckless as to whether life was endangered following the incident in Poole, Dorset, last October.

Ian Clowes' home

A 68-year-old man has been jailed for five years and four months for blowing up his marital home while his wife was downstairs.

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the “almighty explosion” happened on the day Ian Clowes was expected to hand over the property to his wife as part of divorce proceedings.

Clowes was sentenced after pleading guilty to arson reckless as to whether life was endangered by causing the blast, which involved a large butane gas cylinder.

The court was told the defendant had separated from his wife Elaine after he accused her of being unfaithful and had converted the house in Sterte Road, Poole, Dorset, into two flats.

Ian Clowes
Ian Clowes blew up his marital home while his wife was downstairs (CPS/PA)

Clowes lived in the upstairs flat while his estranged wife lived downstairs, but she had gained an order through the family court to buy out her husband and he was due to hand over the keys on October 22, 2018 – the day of the explosion.

Stuart Ellacott, prosecuting, said: “Mr Clowes was not happy with this outcome, wishing the whole of the property to be sold, and didn’t engage with the family court proceedings.”

Both flats and the neighbouring semi-detached house, worth a total of £600,000, suffered “catastrophic damage” and were left uninhabitable.

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Sentencing Clowes, Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said: “This is a wicked thing to have done.

“This offence was motivated by a degree of malice, you didn’t want your wife to get the house you had bought and the court had ordered to be transferred to her.

“I am satisfied that you must have known your wife was in the flat below when you caused the explosion.”

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Mr Ellacott said it was fortunate Mrs Clowes had not been injured or killed as the property “collapsed around her”.

He read Mrs Clowes’s description of the incident, saying: “All of a sudden there was an almighty explosion, the noise came from directly above me and there was debris coming down.”

He continued: “The blast caused the total destruction of the defendant’s flat. He himself was rescued from the rubble upstairs having at that stage sustained life-threatening injuries, 30% burns to his body and was having difficulty breathing.

“He was heard to say words to the effect of ‘I do not want to be here anymore’ and ‘I just want to die’.”

Mr Ellacott said the explosion left the family in the neighbouring property, who were uninsured, homeless and living in rented accommodation.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Clowes said: “What happened on October 22 just hit me so hard, I just kept looking at the devastation that had been my home just a short time before.

“My livelihood and all I worked for has gone, I lost my world. Emotionally I have really struggled with the stress.”

Robert Grey, defending, said Clowes was suffering from an “acute stress reaction” at the time but could not remember the incident because he had “post-traumatic amnesia”.

He said: “He didn’t intend to cause harm to anybody. He wouldn’t have intended to destroy his flat.”

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