A SUICIDAL man who blew up his ex-girlfriend's flat after she dumped him has been jailed for four years.
Drunk on super-strength lager, John Paul Smith put a gas canister on a fire he had started in the Sidney Street home of Janet Boam, Stafford Crown Court was told.
As police tried to coax him out of the flat, there was an 'almighty explosion' that left smoke and flames billowing from the premises.
The defendant appeared on the balcony with a towel over his mouth and, despite making threats with a knife, allowed himself to be rescued.
Smith, 32, of Westfield Street, Burton, admitted a charge of arson, being reckless whether life was endangered.
Judge Paul Glenn told him: "The police described it as 'an almighty explosion'.
"Your actions endangered the lives of totally innocent people including neighbours, the police and passers-by.
"You could have perished yourself but for police intervention."
Neighbours in a terraced house had to be evacuated.
There was extensive damage to the flat and a takeaway on the ground floor belonging to Mohammed Taj.
The bill was put at around £50,000 not including loss of trade and rent for the flat.
Miss Boam, meanwhile, lost all her personal possessions, including items of sentimental value given to her by her late father.
Darron Whitehead, defending, said: "This is a very sad case. This is a man who appears to self destruct when he's at the lowest of lows. Sadly, he turns to drink and when he does drink, to use his own words, he turns to madness. It must have scared the life out of everybody, but it also scared the life out of him because he realised it wasn't what he wanted to do."