George Arthur Hinds: Explosion that killed toddler in Lancashire caused by cut gas pipe, say police

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An explosion that killed a toddler in Heysham, Lancashire, was caused by a cut gas pipe inside a neighbouring house, police have said.

Detectives said they had launched a criminal investigation into how the pipe came to be severed in number 20 Mallowdale Avenue, with inquiries still ongoing.

George Arthur Hinds, who was aged two years and 10 months, died in the blast in the early hours of Sunday 16 May.

His parents Vicky Studholme and Stephen Hinds were injured, but not seriously.

In a tribute to their son, they said: "We are devastated at the loss of our beautiful George.

"He was so precious to us. We have no words to describe how we feel and just want time to ourselves to come to terms with what has happened."

His parents said how their "beautiful little angel grew his wings".

A 44-year-old man and 50-year-old woman are still in hospital with critical injuries.

Police said they were called to the scene of the blast at about 2.40am and found two houses collapsed, with serious damage to a third property.

Officers have now confirmed the severed pipe was discovered in the home of the two people who remain in hospital, the neighbouring property to the house where Mr Hinds and Ms Studholme lived with George.

Detective Chief Inspector Jane Webb said on Monday: "My thoughts first and foremost remain with George's family and loved ones at this time, as well as those others affected by this incident.

"An incredible amount of work has been done at the scene in a relatively short space of time.

"And as well as identifying the source of the explosion, we have also managed to recover some items of George's, which I know means a lot to his parents.

"Our focus now is on trying to establish how and why the pipe inside number 20 came to be cut and those inquiries are complex and lengthy."

The detective appealed for anyone who may have information about what happened to contact police.

Last Tuesday, the Commons was told that toys and belongings were "strewn all over the street" in the aftermath of the explosion.

David Morris, Conservative MP for Morecambe and Lunesdale, described the "heartbreaking" scene and said he "wasn't prepared" for what he saw.

He told MPs: "I was invited by the local council to look at the site - I have to tell you it was heartbreaking.

"What I saw I wasn't prepared for. There were belongings strewn all over the street and toys and just debris everywhere. The whole community in that area were out, they were all in shock."

Residents in Heysham described the noise of the blast as "like a bomb going off", with debris that covered nearby streets and fields.

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