Explosion injures two people at rapist’s former home
A HOMELESS hostel where an explosion last night injured two people was once home to convicted rapist and murderer Kevin Rooney.
A resident of the property in Edinburgh, named locally as Robert Cowan, 39, managed to escape the blazing building but is in hospital with serious burns to his arms and face.
Another resident, a man aged 60, had to be rescued from the converted bungalow in the city’s Longstone Road late on Wednesday night.
Furious neighbours said vile murderer Rooney, who killed 74-year-old Rosina Sutherland around 100 metres away from the house, used to stay there.
It is understood former prisoners are among the people living at the address and, following the explosion, locals have had enough and want it shut down.
Wednesday night’s blast was so severe it blew out the windows, scattering glass across the road, demolishing an internal wall and setting fire to curtains and furniture.
Charred bedding, a chest of drawers and a television could be seen dumped outside the property this morning.
Police said they were not treating the blast as suspicious.
But one resident, who did not wish to be named, said: “We’ve been petitioning for ages to stop prisoners staying here.
“This is the third year it’s been going on.
“That man who killed Rosina Sutherland stayed here.
“We sent a letter to Kenny McAskill in the past and the reply we got back from him basically said ‘Well, these people have to live somewhere’.
“It’s ridiculous, we want our quiet neighbourhood back – not people blowing it up.”
Another resident, Sarah Lawrie, said: “I’d fully support anything to get these guys out.
“It’s disgusting what that Rooney character did to that poor woman.
“We are we helping folk like that?”
Thomas Murphy, a neighbour of Rosina’s in Longstone Park, said: “The council or whoever’s in charge needs to change the rules.
“Why help these folk who just cause mayhem?
“They’ve obviously got problems – just get them out.
“My heart goes out to Rosina’s family.”
Rooney was jailed for a minimum of 21 years after a trial in June this year.
After raping the grandmother-of-five he beat her on the head and body and compressed her throat.
The 26-year-old was on bail at the time of the attack and was a convicted sex offender.
The explosion in the property is understood to have been caused by a portable gas cooker.
Another neighbour, who asked not to be named, said: “Robert has only been in the house a week. He is very quiet and comes and goes quite a lot.
“Last night I think someone was using a wee gas cooker and the next thing you know it blows up.
“There was a partition wall in the living room and it got flattened as well.
“Then the furniture and the curtains caught fire.
“I think Robert got badly burned on his arms and his face but I he’s in hospital now so hopefully he’s on the mend.”
A Lothian and Borders Police spokesman said the incident was not being treated as suspicious.
He said: “Police were called to Longstone Road around 8pm this evening following an explosion within a property there.
“The 39-year-old occupant has been taken to hospital with serious burn injuries, however his condition is not thought to be life threatening.
“No one else was injured, and no other properties were affected by the explosion.
“Police and the fire service are currently in attendance at the scene, and enquiries are underway in order to establish the full circumstances of the incident.”
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