A MAN has appeared in court and has admitted causing a large explosion that resulted in over £1m worth of damage on a residential street in Sunderland.

Emergency services attended a large-scale incident on Whickham Street in Roker on February 15 after a gas explosion that occurred within the kitchen area of a first floor flat.

During the incident, Ian Lenaghan, 59, was one of two people taken to hospital with serious injuries as a result of the blast which destroyed one property and substantially damaged several others.

Read more: Two men in court charged with Sunderland murder

Following the aftermath of the explosion, an investigation into the cause of the explosion was carried out by the police, Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Tyne & Wear Fire & Rescue Service.

They found that a gas cooker hose had been cut multiple times with a sharp metal object just before the blast, which occurred at 3.45pm on the day in question.

The Northern Echo: Ian Lenaghan. Picture: NORTHUMBRIA POLICE.Ian Lenaghan. Picture: NORTHUMBRIA POLICE.

Lenaghan, of Whickham Street, Sunderland, initially refuted his involvement in the cause of the explosion, but today (May 11) pleaded guilty to damaging property reckless as to whether life was endangered when he appeared at Newcastle Crown Court.

Following the court appearance, detective sergeant Alan Whittle, of Northumbria Police, said: “Ian Lenaghan’s actions that afternoon could so easily have resulted in a number of fatalities. It is sheer luck that nobody died in that blast.

The Northern Echo: The aftermath of the house explosion in Sunderland. Picture: TYNE AND WEAR FIRE SERVICE.The aftermath of the house explosion in Sunderland. Picture: TYNE AND WEAR FIRE SERVICE.

“The damage caused on this residential street was significant, at an estimated value of up to £1.4 million. It displaced people from their homes and came at a huge cost to everyone involved.

“I am pleased that he has now been convicted of this offence at court and he must now face the consequences of his mindless actions when he is sentenced next month.

The Northern Echo: Lenaghan admitted the explosion in court today (May 11). Picture: TYNE AND WEAR FIRE SERVICE.Lenaghan admitted the explosion in court today (May 11). Picture: TYNE AND WEAR FIRE SERVICE.

“I would like to thank the community for their incredible cooperation and patience throughout, as well as HSE, Gentoo and our blue-light colleagues who played such an instrumental role in the hours and days after the blast.”

The second male who was taken to hospital has since been discharged.

Lenaghan has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court on June 27.

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