East Sussex hospice facing court over fatal blaze
St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards faces multiple charges concerning fire safety after the fire in July 2015, which claimed two lives.
The hospice, on Upper Maze Hill in the town, suffered the fire on Saturday 11 July 2015, with two people dying following the fire and another man – a patient at the hospice – was charged later with arson with intent to endanger life. Rye and Battle Observer reported that the terminally ill man died ‘days before the court case’, which was brought by East Sussex Fire Authority.
The fire service undertook the case after an investigation, with court proceedings including 13 summonses and evidence ‘to support’ the charges served on 3 May. The police have not brought any further charges against the hospice, but St Michael’s commented that it was ‘disappointed’ by the decision to prosecute. A hearing is planned for Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 8 June.
A spokesperson for East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service (ESFRS) commented to the newspaper: ‘The decision to bring a fire safety prosecution was based on the evidence gathered during our investigation into a fire at St Michael’s Hospice in St Leonards on Saturday, July 11, 2015 and on a number of other relevant matters.
‘Our thoughts remain with the families of those who lost their lives. As this is now a legal matter, we will not be commenting further.’
A spokesperson for St Michael’s Hospice added: ‘We are disappointed by the East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service’s (ESFRS) decision to prosecute the hospice. As ESFRS has said in its press release, the fire at the hospice in July 2015 was started by deliberate arson. We are consulting with our legal representatives on the matter.
‘St Michael’s Hospice is very proud of its reputation for the highest standards of care it provides to people with life-limiting illness and assures all patients, families and supporters that this care will continue unaffected. We cannot comment further at this stage.’