Man blows up neighbour's home in near-fatal gas blast plot

Man blew up his own flat and neighbour’s home above in near-fatal gas blast in revenge plot after complaining about noise

  • Robert Russell, 60, deliberately caused the gas leak which later triggered a blast
  • His neighbour Bill Mazs ignited the fumes while cooking breakfast the next day 
  • The blast, in Whitburn, West Lothian, left Mr Mazs with severe burns and PTSD

A man who blew up his neighbour’s flat in a near-fatal gas blast revenge plot after a row about noise faces being jailed. 

Robert Russell, 60, deliberately caused the leak which was later ignited by his unsuspecting neighbour, Bill Mazs – causing a devastating explosion.

Russell, who lived above his victim, had uncapped a gas pipe supplying his home and that of his victim upstairs 12 hours earlier in a dispute over noise. 

When Mr Mazs switched on his cooker for breakfast the next morning, it ignited the fumes and triggered a blast that wrecked the two-storey block in Whitburn, West Lothian, Scotland. 

A fireball engulfed Mr Mazs, with the explosion sending him flying. The High Court in Livingston heard the terrified 56-year-old tried to douse himself in the shower before staggering into the street with his dog Misty.

The gas explosion in Whitburn, West Lothian, ripped through the two-storey home on December 8, 2020, completely destroying it

An unsuspecting Bill Mazs (pictured) triggered the blast while cooking his breakfast. His neighbour Robert Russell had deliberately caused the gas leak the night before following a noise row 

Describing the horror, neighbour David Agnew, 37, told The Sun: ‘I had just dropped my wee girl at school. I came home and had just got inside and the whole thing went up.

‘If I had been two minutes later I would have been standing right beside it and I’d be a goner.

‘My wife said it sounded like a truck going past the front door. This huge fireball came right by the window and she felt the heat.

‘Bill was standing at the end of the drive basically smoking — I don’t know how he got out that house alive.’ 

Mr Mazs was rushed to A&E suffered ‘severe injury, permanent disfigurement and permanent impairment’. He has since died – but his death is not related to the gas blast. 

Russell has since pleaded guilty to endangering his neighbours’ lives by his reckless and culpable conduct, with Judge Lord Lake warning him: ‘A custodial sentence must be considered.’ 

The court heard that his plot was carried out with ‘utter disregard for the consequences for the property and his neighbours,’ prosecutor Bill McVicar KC said. 

In the weeks leading up to the incident, Russell had twice complained to West Lothian Council about the noise from his neighbour.

The blast blew out the windows of the home and left Mr Mazs horrifically injured. The 56-year-old was later diagnosed with PTSD

Tragically, Mr Mazs has since died. His death is not linked to the house explosion, a court heard

Russell, 60, has since pleaded guilty to endangering his neighbours’ lives by his reckless and culpable conduct, with Judge Lord Lake warning him: ‘A custodial sentence must be considered.’. Pictured is the aftermath of the blast 

On the day of the blast, he then told the local authority to ditch his complaint as he was ending his tenancy. 

At 10pm on December 7, 2020, he removed the plug from the gas pipe before then leaving his flat, Mr McVicar said. 

The explosion at 9.15am the next morning caused so much damage, the flats had to be demolished and rebuilt.

Mr Mazs was left with PTSD after the horror blast, which left him suffering from flashbacks and nightmares of him trying to escape from the flat ‘with flames rippling up the walls’, Mr McVicar added.

Russell has since been bailed. He is due to be sentenced next month. 

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