Residents still want answers after Barnstaple explosion

Joseph Bulmer

SEVEN months on from a gas explosion that rocked their community residents at Trinity Street in Barnstaple are hoping for more answers when they meet with the charity that owns the house destroyed in the blast.

Litchdon and Trinity Residents’ Association has been invited to a second meeting with mental health charity Rethink and Devon Partnership Trust on July 6 at the Park Hotel.

Residents have received a letter from Rethink chief executive Paul Jenkins which says the purpose of the meeting is to “present a summary of shared learning and a joint action plan” following on from the explosion in November.

The Trinity Street house all but destroyed by the blast was run by Rethink through its Cherry Street service, which provides supported living for tenants. The meeting is also scheduled to provide an update on the service.

The explosion scattered debris over a radius of several hundred yards and several nearby properties were damaged, some with roofs pierced by shards of timber.

Neighbours and passerby rushed to help two men badly injured in the blast, Barnstaple saxophonist Michael Collins and Oliver Moon.

Residents association chairman Michelle Watkins said they had met with Rethink in February but various issues were still ongoing.

“People have had their lives turned upside down and are still suffering the effects of this seven months on,” she said.

“We do not know what happened or how it was allowed to happen in the first place.”

She said 17 insurance companies were involved and several people were still waiting for work to be carried out on their properties.

She added that Rethink has said reports on the incident will be provided to residents on June 22.

Oliver Moon was charged with arson which recklessly endangered life on March 17 and appeared at North Devon Magistrates Court.

A preliminary hearing was heard at Exeter Crown Court on May 23. Moon, who has been sectioned under the Mental Health Act, was not required to attend and was remanded in custody. A plea and case management hearing was scheduled for the second week of July.