Addict caused explosion at Peckham hotel after inhaling gas

Paul Coote appeared in Inner London Crown Court on Wednesday (May 3) for sentencing after a jury found him guilty of simple arson. 

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On January 23, 2021, Coote was staying at the Peckham Lodge Hotel which was being used to house homeless and displaced people during the Covid pandemic. 

The 47-year-old had seven butane gas cannisters in his room which he had been inhaling to get high, causing a buildup of the flammable gas in his room. 

He fell asleep but woke a short time later and tried to light a cigarette, Prosecutor Alex Bennie told the court. 

As he sparked the match a large explosion took place. 

130 residents were evacuated from the building but Coote was the only person injured.

He suffered 85 per cent burns which left him in intensive care for six and a half weeks, the court heard. 

The room he was in was destroyed as well as 10 per cent of the first floor which resulted in the total loss to the hotel was £618,000. 

A probation worker told Judge Vanessa Baraitser: “Mr Coote had a butane addiction in his youth which he then kicked for 20 years.” 

However, when his ex-wife discovered he had an affair with one of her friends their marriage came to an end and he then breached restraining orders made against him. 

This downward spiral caused him to relapse into butane use.

Alex Balancy, defence council for Coote, said his client still suffers the consequences of his mistake and faces physical difficulties everyday. 

He added that Coote, of Kingwood Road in Fulham, has now turned his life around and has not touched butane since. 

Judge Baraitser sentenced Coote to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 24 months, meaning he will not go to prison unless he offends again during those two years. 


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