Hooksett man receives suspended sentence in case where house exploded, Nashua man died

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David Favreau, right, leaves court after being given a 12-month suspended sentence for a gas fuel fitting violation from 2017. A man died in the explosion and fire that took place in New Boston.at left is one of his attorneys, Wade D. Hardwood./Pat Grossmith

MANCHESTER, NH – A Hooksett man pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge alleging he failed to put a “do not operate” tag on a gas furnace he had worked on in a New Boston home which later exploded and erupted in flames, killing a Nashua man.

Originally, David Favreau Sr., 57, of 11 Virginia Court, was indicted on a felony charge that alleged his negligence caused a death.  On Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court Northern District he pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of a fuel gas fitter rule violation.

Under the plea agreement, Favreau was given a 12-month sentence, suspended for 10 years; fined $2,000 with an additional $480 penalty assessment, and ordered to pay $9,035 in restitution to the family of Antonio De Souza, 46, of Nashua.  He is also not to do any fuel gas fitting work.

The explosion happened on Sept. 19, 2017, inside a home at lot 32 on Foxberry Drive in New Boston.  Favreau was working on converting a natural gas furnace to propane.  When he was done for the day, he neglected to place a “Do Not Operate” label on the furnace because it was out of service.

DeSouza was in the basement at the time of the explosion and fire and did not survive.

At Monday’s sentencing, Attorney Nicholas Wright told Judge Amy Messer that they don’t believe the state could prove that the furnace caused the fire.

He said they hired an expert, David Wheeler of Northeast Regional Investigations, who set up a furnace exactly the way Favreau had left it.  Wheeler determined that the furnace would not let gas accumulate and cause an explosion. Wright explained to a reporter outside the courtroom that the furnace had a variety of safety measures built in to prevent gas from accumulating in it.

“It had sensors in it to detect the flow of gas so it would automatically be shut down,” he said.  Wright said the investigation into the cause of the fire is still ongoing.

He said what he could say is Wheeler, who was in the courtroom but did not speak, said it was “impossible for the furnace to be the cause.”

The judge said she presumed by the “no contest” plea that there is a civil suit.  Prosecutor Katelyn Nicole Brown said there was.

Brown read two victim witness statements, one from DeSouza’s 20-year-old daughter, Anna, who said her father was the most important person in her life, and his widow, who said her husband’s death remains an “open wound” for her daughter.

DeSouza was from Brazil and was employed as a painter by USA Painting LLC.