A BROTHER has told of the family's heartache after his sister's death from a gas blast on the housing estate she loved.

Norma Ann Sinclair, 53, died in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Newcastle, on Monday night, after being transferred there from North Tees General Hospital with 95 per cent burns.

She was the victim of an explosion at her home in Wheatley Walk, Hardwick, Stockton, early on Monday.

The blast was caused by vandals who had ripped gas meters off walls.

Speaking yesterday, her younger brother Neil, 52, said: "I can accept the fact she is dead, but I find it hard to understand the fear, pain and suffering which she went through in her final hours.

"As the days pass I can get over her death, but what plays on my mind is what she went through. People have told me she remained quite calm and that has helped."

Miss Sinclair, who was not married and had no children, had lived on the Hardwick estate for more than 20 years.

She had many friends who lived nearby, and would rarely go into the centre of Stockton because everything she needed was on the estate.

Mr Sinclair, from Stockton, said: "She loved the estate and had a lot of friends there. Her passions in life were reading, watching TV and listening to music."

Miss Sinclair, who was born in Scotland, leaves behind her mother and father, two brothers, and three sisters, including her twin.

The family moved back to Scotland in the 1960s, but Norma and Neil decided to stay in Stockton.

Miss Sinclair's mother Julia, who is paralysed down her right side, celebrated her 75th birthday hours before her daughter's death.

She is aware her daughter has died, but has not been told all the details.

Mr Sinclair said: "My father has been censoring the papers so that she does not see all the details. It would be too much for her.

"If it was not for an act of vandalism my sister would be here."