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Oldham gas explosion: 32-year-old man held over boy's death


Jamie Heaton

Jamie Heaton

Jamie Heaton

A 32-YEAR-OLD man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following the death of two-year-old Jamie Heaton in an explosion in Oldham, Greater Manchester Police said.

Detectives investigating the death of a toddler killed in a massive explosion last night arrested a man on suspicion of manslaughter.

The man, 32, was taken into custody following Jamie Heaton's death in Shaw, Oldham.

A GMP spokesman said: "A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter following the death of a two-year-old boy in an explosion in Oldham."

Michelle Heaton, 28, had momentarily left two-year-old son Jamie watching television in their front room whilst she popped out into the back yard.

The explosion, believed to have stemmed from the house next door, destroyed their house and killed Jamie, despite Mrs Heaton’s best attempts to reach him.

The explosion was believed to have started at the house of Mrs Heaton’s neighbour, Andrew Partington, 27.

The National Grid confirmed that there was no gas leak from an external pipe.

Mr Partington suffered 20 per cent burns in the explosion, which destroyed four houses and damaged several more in Buckley St, Shaw, near Oldham, Greater Manchester, and was last night under sedation in hospital.

He lived at the house with his partner Tanya Williams and five children. Officers were waiting to speak to him when he woke up and said they had “significant questions” for him.

Mrs Heaton, who lived with her husband, Kenny, 29, and their three children, had spoken recently on Facebook about her “wonderful” children and how life as a family was so good.

Whilst senior officers admitted that a domestic situation on Monday night was playing a role in their enquiry, Steve Heywood, Assistant Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police, said: “We have had some information to suggest it may not be accidental so we are treating it as a suspicious death and therefore a homicide investigation is undertaken.

“One of the early indications was that it may not have been an accident, therefore we will always then up the ante and treat it as a suspicious death inquiry.

"There might have been some precursor event, like a domestic incident. All those things are still in our thinking at this time."

Mr Partington - a joiner originally from Rochdale who was recently made redundant, according to locals - was still under sedation and unconscious at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester.

One said Miss Williams had asked him to marry her at the weekend.

Prime Minister David Cameron wished police "all speed" in establishing what caused the blast.

"I am sure the whole House will want to send a message of sympathy and condolences to the family of that poor two-year-old who lost their life, and also our best wishes to the burns victim who is in hospital being treated.

"The scenes were really quite appalling to see on our televisions and what had happened from that explosion," he said at question time in the Commons.

He said he wanted pay tribute to the response of the emergency services "and also wish all speed to the police to get to the bottom of anything that might have happened here or anything that might have gone on".

"Everyone will require answers to what has been an absolute tragedy."

Cizzy Blair, Miss Williams’s sister, said at her home in Rochdale: "Tanya and Andy had a row on Monday night and she brought the kids here while they were still in their pyjamas.

"They stayed here for the night and she only found out about the incident when my husband Edward heard on the news the next day that there had been an explosion in Tanya's street.

"We broke the news to her and she was obviously just devastated. We know there are lots of rumours flying around but all we can say is that we are helping the police with their inquiries.

"She has been to the hospital to see about Andy but all we know is that his condition is still critical. They have been together for five years or so and the two youngest children are his."

The massive explosion flattened number 11 Buckley Street, where the Heatons lived, and number 9, where Mr Partington lived.

The two houses are separated by an alleyway.

It is understood Mr Partington had only moved into the property around six weeks ago.

ACC Heywood compared the scene to something like the IRA's bombing of Manchester.

"This looks like there has been a bomb. The devastation is absolutely tremendous. Our thoughts go out to those families that have been displaced."

Dozens of residents remain homeless having not yet been allowed to return to their properties.