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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 October, 2004, 18:33 GMT 19:33 UK
Fatal blast follows knife killing
Scene of flat fire
The explosion caused major damage to the tenement
An explosion which rocked a Glasgow tenement and left a grandmother dead was an attempt to conceal a killing, the High Court in Glasgow heard.

Myra Donachie, 52, was unable to escape from her smoke-filled flat in Allison Street, Glasgow, after the blast.

Samuel Petto was trying to cover his tracks after killing Arthur Rawlinson.

He asked Walter Thomson and Steven Telford for help and they doused the flat in petrol, causing the explosion. The trio will be sentenced later.

On Monday, they admitted murdering Mrs Donachie on 15 March.

Petto, 24, had originally been charged with the murder of Mr Rawlinson, but admitted the lesser charge of culpable homicide.

The 30-year-old father-of-five was stabbed eight times following an argument over missing money.

On Tuesday, advocate-depute Dorothy Bain told the court that the dispute had begun in the street and continued in the ground floor flat shared by the two men.

Residents spoke of hearing a massive explosion which shook the building and of seeing a fireball outside their windows
Dorothy Bain
A friend who witnessed the row went to bed, but was woken by a noise in the living room.

"He went through to the living room and saw the deceased lying on the floor with blood pouring from his abdomen," she said.

"His arms were outstretched and he was not moving. The accused, Petto, was standing a short distance away with a knife in his hand. He looked shocked.

"He (the witness) said 'What have you done? You have killed the boy'."

Petto asked Thomson, 23, and Telford, 18, to help him conceal the killing.

Petrol trail

CCTV footage captured Telford buying three petrol canisters at a nearby garage.

Ms Bain said a trail of petrol was poured throughout the ground floor flat before it was ignited, creating a "large explosive force".

The blast knocked down the dividing wall of the flat, partially blocking the entrance to the tenement with rubble, and blew out its windows, spraying glass and debris into the street.

Scene of flat fire
The incident happened in the Govanhill area of the city
"Residents spoke of hearing a massive explosion which shook the building and of seeing a fireball outside their windows," she said.

Ms Bain said it was "highly probable" that Mrs Donachie had tried to leave her third floor home after the blast but was unable to do so due to heavy smoke.

The grandmother was taken to Glasgow's Victoria Infirmary, where she was pronounced dead in the early hours of 16 March.

Mrs Donachie was found to have soot around her airways and extremely high levels of carbon monoxide in her blood.

Advocates for Thomson and Telford said the pair felt regret and remorse over their actions.

Petto's defence advocate was expected to make a submission when the men appear for sentencing on 22 October.

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