Fireworks factory boss jailed over fire deaths
A BUSINESSMAN has received a ten year prison sentence over two deaths from fire in his firework factory.
BBC News reports that employee Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples died from inhaling combustible products in October 2014 at the SP Fireworks factory unit in Baswich, Stafford. Emergency services only discovered them the day after, because the roof of the unit had collapsed. Owner Richard Pearson, who was also injured in the blaze, was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.
Although the number of fireworks stored was up to 10 times the permitted limit, Mr Pearson denied failing to take reasonable care in the storing and handling of explosives. In fact, he tried to blame others, saying he believed Mr Hillier may have been carrying a ‘home-made’ firework which set off the fatal fire. When questioned by police, he also claimed that someone must have thrown a firework into the shop.
Judge Michael Chambers QC said this was ‘not a case where remorse loomed large’, adding: ‘Despite being very knowledgeable about fireworks and the risks they pose, motivated by financial profit, you have demonstrated an arrogant recklessness for the safety of others in the storage and handling of dangerous fireworks’.
Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) incident commander Tm Hyde described the incident scene as ‘harrowing’ and ‘dangerous’, while SFRS’s Glynn Luznyj commented: ‘This was an incredibly difficult incident for firefighters, who worked relentlessly to extinguish the blaze’.
Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy has called for a tightening of regulations on the amount of fireworks that can be stored.