Miraculously, both escaped with just minor injuries after they were thrown into their garden. But two of their Afghan hounds had to be put down after being injured in the blast.

An investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) found the cause of the 2012 explosion in Lesmahagow, Lanarkshire, was due to the poor construction of the gas main.

Yesterday, at Lanark Sheriff Court, Turriff Contractors Limited, of Stepps, Glasgow, admitted breaching health and safety laws.

The HSE also found the company failed to adequately supervise the construction and installation of the equipment.

An inquiry found the gas main – installed in 2007 – was constructed near a low voltage electrical cable which later short circuited.

The heat generated caused the release of natural gas, which led to the explosion.

Miss McDonald, a retired teacher, was standing next to the dining room table reading a newspaper and Mr Martyn was on the sofa when the house was rocked by the huge blast.

They had gone outside to investigate minutes before the explosion after they smelled gas.

The couple, both 78 years old, who bred dogs and had shown at Crufts, were taken to hospital and treated for burns and shock, as well as neck, back and shoulder injuries. Following a two-year, £250,000 rebuild of the house, they have returned to the site.

Miss McDonald said: “I was left with the blue trousers and top I was wearing when I walked out of the hospital. That was all I had. It was awful and was very distressing.

“It catapulted us in to old age. It annoys me because I never thought I was old. We didn’t do old things but now that’s all we can do.

“I’m very glad everyone was still alive. We were very lucky. But it was heartbreaking to see our lives in tatters and with nothing to show for a lifetime of work. The explosion was from the foundations up so the whole house went up. We were lucky the roof stayed on. It was so dangerous nobody was allowed in, not even firemen.

“The next morning, they tore the place down. It was heartbreaking.”

HSE head of gas and pipelines Julie Voce said: “It was very fortunate the two residents escaped this life-threatening incident with minor injuries. Duty holders must construct and install all gas pipelines to the required standard.

“In this case, Turriff Contractors failed to do so and we hope lessons have been learned to avoid similar events in the future.”

Daily Express

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