ROKER EXPLOSION UPDATE: Man to face Crown Court date after being charged over suspected Sunderland gas blast

A man is to appear at Crown Court accused of causing a gas blast which ripped through a Sunderland street.

Emergency services were called to a property in Whickham Street, Roker, at around 3.45pm on February 15, after reports of a suspected gas explosion.

Two men were taken to hospital with serious injuries but have since been discharged.

An investigation has been ongoing into the circumstances surrounding the blast.

A cordon in place in Whickham Street, Roker, following a suspected explosion.

Ian Lenaghan has been charged with criminal damage with intent to endanger the lives of Gordon Rodham and Lynne Holland.

He appeared before South Tyneside Magistrates Court on Wednesday, April 6.

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Lenaghan, 59, of Whickham Street, who was wearing a white shirt and grey jumper and had one hand bandaged, stumbled as he entered the dock.

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He spoke briefly to confirm his name, age and address and that he understood the charge.

The court heard he had suffered 80 per cent burns in the blast.

The case was committed to Newcastle Crown at 10am on May 4 and Lenaghan was remanded in custody. No plea was entered.

Detective Sergeant Alan Whittle, of Northumbria Police, said: “Inquiries have been ongoing ever since this incident and I would like to thank everyone – from our partners to the local community – for their cooperation and patience.

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“We believe the cause of the explosion to be suspicious, and as such, a man has now been charged in connection with the incident and is due to appear before the courts.

“I would ask that everyone respects the live proceedings and please refrain from any speculation, both on social media and in the community, that could jeopardise the case.”