A 68-year-old man has been jailed for five years and four months for blowing up his home while his wife was inside.
Elaine Clowes was downstairs when the “almighty explosion” happened but managed to escape without injury as the property “collapsed around her”, Bournemouth Crown Court heard.
He was expected to hand over the property to his wife as part of divorce proceedings on the day of the explosion.
The estranged couple had separated after Mr Clowes accused his wife of being unfaithful.
They had converted their home in Poole, Dorset, into two separate flats but Mrs Clowes had been allowed to buy out her husband through the family court.
Prosecutor Stuart Ellacott said Mr Clowes was not happy with the sale and “didn’t engage with the family court proceedings”.
The blast caused “catastrophic damage” to both flats and the neighbouring semi-detached house – worth a total of £600,000 – and they were rendered uninhabitable.
The family in the neighbouring property, who were uninsured, were left homeless and living in rented accommodation.
Mr Ellacott said Mrs Clowes was lucky to be alive and read her 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.”
Mr Clowes pleaded guilty to arson reckless as to whether life was endangered.
Judge Jonathan Fuller QC described Mr Clowes’ actions as “wicked” and said he believed Mr Clowes was aware his wife was in the flat at the time.
He added: “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.”
Mr Clowes suffered life-threatening injuries in the explosion, sustaining 30% burns to his body and having difficulty breathing.
The court heard he said words to the effect of “I do not want to be here anymore” and “I just want to die”.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mrs Clowes said: “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 Mr Clowes had been suffering from an “acute stress reaction” but could not remember the incident as he had “post-traumatic amnesia”.
He added: “He didn’t intend to cause harm to anybody. He wouldn’t have intended to destroy his flat.”