A MAN tried to blow up his ex-wife’s kitchen by leaving a lit candle near an open gas tap, risking the lives of neighbours and the emergency services, a court heard.

Harrogate man Martin Whyms was drunk when he went to his former marital home in Leyland Road in November last year, York Crown Court was told.

Prosecutor Nick Adlington said Whyms went into the empty house without his ex-wife’s permission.

He drank more and spent hours poring over photographs of his wife and children, before eventually becoming so angry about the amount of work he had put into renovating the kitchen that he decided to blow it up.

Whyms, 48, pleaded guilty to attempted arson reckless as to the endangerment of life.

Mr Adlington said it was only when Whyms was walking home that he realised the seriousness of the situation and called the police.

Officers went first to his then home in Camwal Court, The Avenue, Harrogate, before going with firefighters to Leyland Road.

There they found a strong smell of gas and spotted a lit candle in the kitchen. Firefighters smashed a window so they could put the candle out with a water jet.

Neighbours in an adjoining house had to be evacuated for several hours.

For Whyms, Matthew Stephenson said his client had gone through an alcohol-treatment programme in the months he has spent in custody since the offence, and was filled with remorse for his actions. He asked Recorder Paul Reid to spare his client jail.

Mr Stephensons said: “He has not at any stage tried to excuse what he did, but he has with some anguish tried to get to the bottom of what has gone wrong these last few years.”

Judge Reid gave Whyms an 18-month suspended prison sentence with a supervision order, and warned him never to touch alcohol again. He said: “You must be completely abstinent from alcohol for the rest of your life. You cannot afford to lapse once.

“I am giving you a chance here, and if you throw that back in my face you will pay the consequences.”