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Bridge Point explosion trial: Romford Market trader denies selling 200 gas canisters to pair accused of arson

PUBLISHED: 17:00 21 October 2019

Emergency services at the scene of an explosion at the flats in Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones

Emergency services at the scene of an explosion at the flats in Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones

PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones

A Romford Market trader told a jury that he did not sell more than 200 gas canisters to one of the men on trial in connection with an explosion at flats in Hornchurch.

Emergency services at the scene of an explosion at Bridge Point, Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria JonesEmergency services at the scene of an explosion at Bridge Point, Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones

Kan Singh was cross-examined during proceedings at Snaresbrook Crown Court on Friday October 18 in the trial of Ben Beavis, 28, and Curtis Lepley, 36.

The duo are charged with arson after an explosion and fire at the Bridge Point flats, Southend Arterial Road, at around 5pm on January 23, 2017.

The court heard that Mr Singh has had a stall in Romford Market since 2014 and sells smoking accessories, electronic cigarettes and e-liquids.

On Thursday, prosecutor Ken Millett told the court that Mr Beavis and Mr Lepley had acquired and stored more than 200 butane gas canisters in Bridge Point's ground floor Flat 12, "in their quest to make cannabis oil".

A member of the emergency services at the scene of an explosion at a building in Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria JonesA member of the emergency services at the scene of an explosion at a building in Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones

The court was told Mr Lepley, who was the occupier of Flat 12 at the time of the incident, gave a prepared statement to police in which he said he had acquired 208 Clipper refill lighters and taken them back to his flat after being unable to store them elsewhere.

During Friday's hearing, when asked by Mr Millett if he had ever sold anyone 205 canisters, Mr Singh said: "No. These cans are quite heavy and you cannot even transport them in the van."

He told the court that there were never more than 20 cans on his stall at any one time.

But Philip Misner, representing Mr Lepley, accused Mr Singh of lying to the jury, and told him that he had sold a quantity of 205 or 208 canisters in Romford Market.

Emergency services at the scene of an explosion at the block of flats in Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria JonesEmergency services at the scene of an explosion at the block of flats in Hornchurch. Picture: PA Wire/PA Images/Victoria Jones

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He put it to Mr Singh that two men came to see him at his stall asking about smoking accessories.

Mr Singh said he did not recall this.

Mr Misner then said the men asked about buying more than 100 canisters, but Mr Singh said: "Nobody has ever asked me how many canisters they need."

The barrister then alleged that the men came back the next day and collected their canisters from Mr Singh.

The trader replied: "I did not sell, how could I know of this?"

Mr Misner retorted: "It was you who sold these cans to Mr Lepley and the man with him."

"No I did not", Mr Singh said.

During the prosecution opening on Thursday, the court was told the explosion and fire led to 30 people being evacuated, with five people being injured and two women and a child having to be rescued.

Mr Beavis, of Church Road, Harold Wood, and Mr Lepley, of St John Close, Collier Row, both deny arson being reckless as to whether life is endangered.

The trial continues.

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