A MAN who almost killed both himself and his ex-wife by blowing up their Poole home has been warned he faces a lengthy prison sentence.

Ian Clowes appeared at Bournemouth Crown Court via prison video link yesterday to admit arson after a gas explosion ripped apart a property in Sterte Road.

The defendant, 67, was separated from wife Elaine and had converted their marital home into two flats before he triggered the blast on October 22 last year.

He is thought to have ignited gas cylinders.

Incredibly, Mrs Clowes, 63, escaped with just minor injuries. She was in her downstairs flat at the time of the explosion.

Clowes, a house clearer and antiques dealer, was seriously hurt. He spent several months recovering from his injuries in hospital.

The defendant, who is currently an inmate at HMP Winchester, yesterday denied arson with intent to endanger life. He admitted the lesser offence of arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered, which was accepted by prosecutors.

Robert Grey, mitigating, asking for a psychiatric report to be prepared ahead of sentencing in April.

Judge Peter Crabtree adjourned the case, but warned Clowes that he faces a long jail term.

“This is a serious offence, as you will well appreciate,” the judge said.

“The starting point for sentencing is a lengthy custodial [term].”

According to neighbours, Clowes had separated from his wife in 2016.

He then separated the semi-detached home into two flats.

CCTV cameras in Sterte Road captured the moment of the blast. The roof of the home was torn off and a thick cloud of black smoke engulfed the remains of the property.

Neighbour Norah Wilson, an 85-year-old retired nurse, said after the explosion: “I heard this huge bang and ran out to help.

“There was all this smoke and the house was completely destroyed. You could smell gas.

“Debris was covering two cars in front to the house.

“I thought to myself, ‘How could anybody survive that?’

“I saw a lady get into an ambulance and she seemed all right.”

Retired soldier Brian Wright, 80, said he was stunned to see the woman walk out of the destroyed house.

He said: “There was a terrific, crashing noise.

“Straight away I thought it was a gas explosion.”