Christchurch gas explosion: Gas fitter sentenced to community work after 2019 blast that destroyed house, injured six

A Christchurch gas fitter has avoided prison for his role in a 2019 gas explosion that destroyed a house and left six people injured.

The blast occurred at a property on Marble St in the suburb of Northwood last July, blowing the home to pieces and causing the evacuation of 50 nearby residents.

Surrounding properties - some as many as 100 metres away - were also damaged, and police said at the time it was a miracle no-one was killed.

Following a WorkSafe-led investigation, charges were filed under the Gas Act 1992 against two parties - Gas Unlimited and its owner Gregory Smith.

During an appearance at the Christchurch District Court on Tuesday, Justice Tony Zohrab sentenced Smith to 325 hours' community work.

He also ordered Smith to pay a total of $134,300 in reparations, made up of payments of between $15,000 and $25,000 for each of the five people in the house at the time of the blast, and another $5000 each for three other victims. The remaining victims will receive emotional harm payments.

Justice Zohrab also handed Gas Unlimited a fine of $82,500 for breaching gas safety and measurement regulations.

Smith's lawyer Joseph Lill said his client has been left "shattered" by the event. He said Smith had expressed genuine remorse and engaged with victims as best as he could in the aftermath.

Dennis Dow, representing WorkSafe, acknowledged Smith's remorse but said the explosion was "incredibly easy to avoid". Dow said other than death, it'd be hard to imagine causing more widespread damage and harm.

Earlier, some of the victims of the explosion read impact statements in court explaining how the event had affected them.

One victim who cannot be named said he lost everything he'd worked so hard for in the blast, as well as suffering serious burns to his face, hands and feet.

He told the court he had no idea how he survived the explosion, and to this day gets anxious around fires, gas cookers and BBQs.

Another victim, who suffered burns to nearly a third of his body, told the court he only survived "by the grace of God". He described being carried out of his house with his legs burning and seeing a tag with 'critical' written on it attached to his wrist.

He said his recovery so far has been hard, painful and emotionally draining. He requires treatment for his skin grafts four times a day, and has been told to avoid direct sunlight for at least another year.

He described himself a "very social person" before the event, but says his response to people has changed and his ability to communicate with friends and family is "different".

"Gardening was my passion, but I no longer have that inclination. Reading... I can no longer concentrate," he said. "I am now unable to do the things I used to do and I don’t find the same enjoyment in the interactions that I used to."

He said his partner, who was also injured in the blast, now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.