Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Scrap Metal. Thief's Warning after Blast; Badly Burned Man Spent 11 Days in Intensive Care

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Scrap Metal. Thief's Warning after Blast; Badly Burned Man Spent 11 Days in Intensive Care

Article excerpt

Byline: JOANNE BUTCHER

HUMAN fireball David Watson was left fighting for his life after trying to steal scrap metal.

In a stark warning to potential thieves, two months later he is still in excruciating pain, covered in bandages and undergoing skin grafts.

When the 35-year-old appeared at Newcastle Magistrates' Court yesterday, he was forced to stand as he finds it too painful to sit down.

Fined after admitting attempted theft from a disused garage in Walker, Newcastle, he warned others about the dangers of stealing scrap.

"It isn't worth it," he said. "I wouldn't go through that pain again. I have been trying to warn people about it.

"People think there is no harm in taking a bit of metal. I didn't realise the danger until it happened to me. These people who take cable from the Metro and the railways need to know what can happen.

"A lot of people who do it are kids, I've spoken to them. Some were put off when they saw my face after it happened.

"I have still got to have more skin grafts and I am on strong painkillers. I want to tell people that it's just not worth it."

Newcastle magistrates heard how Watson, of Welbeck Road, Walker, had gone with friends to the derelict former ATS garage at St Mary's Place to look for scrap on October 23.

The building, which has been empty for several years, was not locked or fenced off.

But as they tried to cut out a length of cable, there was a huge explosion - knocking Watson out and setting his clothes on fire. He only escaped with his life because he managed to stumble to nearby Mitchell Street after regaining consciousness where a driver spotted him at around 3pm and called 999.

"She became aware of someone trying to flag her down," Michael Rose, prosecuting, told the court. "The man had burned skin on his hands and his clothing was blackened. …

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