University boss pays tribute to man killed in Haxby house explosion

LEEDS BECKETT University have paid tribute to a 63-year-old employee, who was killed in an explosion which damaged more than a dozen houses.

Sunday, 21st February 2016, 9:12 am
Updated Sunday, 21st February 2016, 3:10 pm
The scene in Haxby, North Yorkshire, after a house was destroyed in an explosion. The detached building was reduced to rubble and nearby properties were badly damaged. Photo : John Giles/PA Wire

Paul Wilmott died in the suspected gas explosion at his home in Haxby, near York, on Friday morning, which destroyed his detached home on Springwood.

He had worked for more than 30 years at Leeds Beckett University, most recently in the video production unit.

It was believed he was alone in the house at the time. Specialists recovered his body from the debris.

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Leeds Beckett University’s vice chancellor Professor Peter Slee said: “Paul was a committed colleague with 33 years’ service at our university, most recently in our video production team.

“We are very saddened to hear of his death and our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

Meanwhile, a local police officer has asked for residents to be given space to recover during the long repair process.

Pc Kirven tweeted: “Having been up close on the scene in Haxby last night I can safely say you need to give the community time to come to terms with what’s happened.

“Please don’t harass, pester or nosey in on them. They have a lot of work to repair their homes ahead of them so please please.

“Respect their privacy and please respect the dignity of the male who lost his life and don’t gossip about him on social media. Thank you.”

Inspector Steve Breen of North Yorkshire Police said yesterday that this was an isolated incident, there were not believed to be any suspicious circumstances, and that a gas explosion was thought to be the cause.