Pascal Blasio, 57, took a cap off a gas pipe and tampered with a control valve, jurors were told.
A man, Lewis Jones, 21, was “left clinging to life” with serious brain injury.
Prosecutor Nigel Lawrence QC said 63 buildings were wrecked in the “almost apocalyptic” blast.
He told Liverpool crown court: “It could have led to loss of lives.”
Blasio filed an insurance claim after the horror in New Ferry, The Wirral.
The QC added: “He had sold off much of his furniture. Trying to destroy his shop was his last throw of the dice.”
Blasio denies fraud and causing the 2017 explosion. The trial continues.
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