Buckley Street after the explosion. Pic: PA
A father of six has admitted cutting gas pipes that caused a massive explosion and killed a two-year-old boy.
Andrew Partington, 27, allowed his house to fill with gas overnight before it ignited at 11.15am and 'obliterated' his and two neighbouring properties in Shaw, Oldham, Greater Manchester.
Yesterday, he appeared at Manchester Crown Court where he admitted the manslaughter of little Jamie Heaton, who had been watching TV at his home next door when the blast happened.
Partington himself suffered 40 per cent burns and a broken back in the explosion.
Shocked neighbours who had fled their collapsing homes searched the wreckage, finding the youngster's body in the debris.
Residents had reported smelling gas 40 minutes earlier. The fatal blast erupted just as engineers from the National Grid were arriving in the street, leaving it looking like a 'war zone'.
Jamie, described by his family as a 'happy, loving little boy', had been watching children's TV in the lounge while his mother Michelle did housework and his father Kenny was out at work.
It was only by a slim chance that Michelle wasn't in the house when the blast tore through their home. She had just slipped into the back garden to hang out the washing.
Officers on the case at the time investigated reports Partington had rowed with his girlfriend Tanya Williamson the previous evening, just hours before the tragedy happened.
Michelle and Kenny Heaton leave court. Pic: PA
Partington, who recently came out of a coma following the gas blast, appeared in court by videolink from jail. He pleaded guilty to manslaughter and eight charges of destroying neighbouring houses, causing more than £1million-worth of damage, on June 26.
Remanding Partington in custody, Judge Andrew Gilbart told him: "There is only one possible sentence in this case, a custodial sentence.
"It is likely to be determined by the High Court judge who deals with it on February 11."
Before the trial, Jamie's parents spoke to their local paper about how they are dreading Christmas without their little boy.
Kenny, 37, said: "Every day is different - we're up and down but we've both got good families nearby. We've got a really good support network. We've just got our own house.
"We'll be in for Christmas and we're just going to stay in and try and get through the day. We wanted to stay in Shaw."
The couple said the kindness of strangers has been 'amazing' with scores of people doing fundraising activities to help.
Kenny and Michelle, 31, have also set up the 'Jamie's Something Special Memorial Fund' to buy play equipment for Bullcote Park in nearby Heyside where the toddler took his first steps.