Ex-husband jailed for blowing up his house dies of cancer in prison

Vengeful ex-husband who was jailed for blowing up his house while his ex-wife was downstairs dies of cancer in prison aged 68

  • Ian Clowes, 68, died in Andover hospital after moved from Winchester prison
  • He had been suffering from cancer and died in the hospital’s palliative care unit 
  • Clowes jailed for five years and four months in a Bournemouth court last year
  • Triggered explosion that almost killed him and ex-wife Elaine Clowes in Poole

A vengeful ex-husband jailed for blowing up his house while his estranged wife was downstairs has died in prison.

Ian Clowes, 68, passed away in Andover hospital after being moved from Winchester prison, Hampshire.

He had been suffering from cancer and died in the hospital’s palliative care unit.

A Prison Service spokesperson said: ‘HMP Winchester prisoner Ian Clowes died in hospital on 13 September.

‘The Prisons and Probation Ombudsman has been informed.’

Clowes was jailed for five years and four months at Bournemouth Crown Court in May last year.

The court heard he triggered a huge gas explosion that ripped the house apart and almost killed him and ex-wife Elaine Clowes in Poole, Dorset, on October 22, 2018.


 Vengeful ex-husband Ian Clowes, 68, who was jailed for blowing up his house while his estranged wife was downstairs has died in prison

Clowes had been due to be evicted on the day of the blast.

He suffered serious burns and spent six weeks in a medically induced coma.

Miracuously, his 63-year-old ex-wife was found alive under a pile of rubble in her bedroom.

Judge Jonathan Fuller QC said his crimes had been ‘wicked’ and caused significant harm to his former partner.

Judge Fuller said: ‘This offence was motivated by a degree of malice. You did not want your wife to get the house that you had bought.

‘This was a wicked thing to have done adding to which the psychological cost which was huge.’

Clowes was ordered to pay compensation to both his ex-wife and his next door neighbour who was home at the time.

A court heard that after the couple’s marriage ended in 2015, the semi-detached home they shared in Poole, Dorset, was converted into two flats that the pair lived in.

But Clowes, a house clearer, suffered ‘severe financial difficulties’ and allowed the insurance on the building to run out.

Clowes’s wife Elaine, 63, is pictured the day after the explosion at her home in Poole 

A court order was issued allowing Mrs Clowes to gain control of both flats, with a fee of £65,000 paid to her ex-husband.

She had planned to sell the upstairs flat and stay in her own but Clowes was said to be unhappy about the arrangement.

Stuart Ellacott, prosecuting, said he acted out of malice in destroying the 1930s property by placing two gas canisters in his all-electric flat and opening up the valve of one and igniting it.

Mr Ellacott added: ‘There is a level of malice with this case.

‘It may be that he did not intend to cause injury to Mrs Clowes but he did not want her to get the house.

‘The malice comes from him not wanting her to get what he thought she should not.’

He said that two days before the blast Clowes was seen to enter the property with the two gas canisters.

Clowes was jailed for five years and four months at Bournemouth Crown Court in May last year. The court heard he triggered a huge gas explosion that ripped the house apart (pictured) and almost killed him and ex-wife Elaine Clowes in Poole, Dorset 

Mr Ellacott added that Clowes had no reason to have gas canisters in his flat as it was all-electric.

Mrs Clowes described hearing a noise from above and then the ceiling coming crashing down in her flat.

The emergency services were able to get her out of her bedroom after forcing open the window and she was lifted over rubble.

Mr Ellacott said: ‘The blast caused the total destruction of the defendant’s flat and he was saved from the upstairs.

‘He had to be airlifted to hospital where he remained until January.

‘He had 30 per cent burns and was in an induced coma for around five or six weeks.’

The fire service found a blue gas cylinder in the defendant’s flat that was ‘still venting’. A red cylinder was also present but did not contribute to the explosion.

CCTV footage captured the moment of the explosion. The roof can be seen being torn clean off and a thick cloud of black smoke immediately engulfing the remains of the property.

In a victim impact statement that was read out in court, Mrs Clowes said she could never imagine her ex-husband being so vengeful.

Firefighters are pictured at the semi-detached property in Poole, Dorset on October 22 2018 – after the explosion

She said: ‘He has shown little regard for me in recent years but I would never suspect he would do something like this.

‘Emotionally I have really suffered with stress.

‘I have not been able to search for things that are sentimental to me like jewellery. Someone has also now broken into the site and stolen those things.’

Bournemouth Crown Court heard the Clowes began their relationship in 2004 and married soon after.

In 2009 Mrs Clowes was diagnosed with cancer and in 2010 the business they ran together folded due to financial difficulties.

The couple filed for divorce in 2015 after he accused her of being unfaithful. 

He pleaded guilty to arson via video link at a hearing at Bournemouth Crown Court. 

Robert Grey, defending, said his client ‘could not remember the events prior, during or after the incident due to his injuries’.

He also claimed Clowes ‘never meant to injure anyone let alone risk any life’ and had suffered 30 per cent burns in the blast.

Mr Grey said:’Due to the nature of his injuries Mr Clowes is unable to remember the events prior, during or after the incident.

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