Groom jailed for hotel arson attack

Max Kay jailed for six years after setting fire to the Grade 1 listed hotel in Cheshire.

It was back on the 18th June 2011 when more than one hundred guests were staying at the Peckforton Castle in Cheshire for the wedding of Max Kay and his bride.

Kay, 37, had booked the wedding back in 2009 when the property developer was in the process of becoming bankrupt, although he still booked the wedding at the cost of £27,000.  Chester Crown Court today (Wednesday) heard how the owners have a set contract with customers which lays out how weddings must be paid for in installments, leading to the full fee being paid four weeks before the wedding.  This was not met by Kay, and he only paid the total amount, three days before the wedding, after being told that it would be cancelled if not.

Max KayDuring the sentencing hearing the court was told how dad of four Kay had drank more than a bottle and a half of vodka, staff estimating that to be around 20 double measures, and was becoming more and more aggressive, making derogatory comments about the owners of the hotel, even asking staff where the Taylor family lived.

CCTV footage from the hotel shows Kay repeatedly going in and out of the Drawing Room of the hotel, they believe where he repeatedly set fire to the curtains, directly under where his new bride was sleeping.  He is then seen helping hotel staff with the evacuation of more than one hundred guests and staff, including a man in a wheelchair and 13 children.

Jailing Kay for six years, Judge Roger Dutton said it was a miracle that nobody was seriously hurt or killed, adding: "Having been made bankrupt and very recently discharged from that bankruptcy, you embarked upon a wedding that would involve paying for a ceremony you could nowhere near afford.

"It was all to maintain a bravado with friends and family and to make it appear you could afford such largesse to friends and family and those you wanted to impress."

Owners of Peckforton Castle Speaking outside Chester Crown Court, Chris Naylor who's family own the hotel said that he's proud of the way his staff handled the situation: "The barrister said in court what a great job they did, and I think it's a miracle.

"When you hear to stories about what they went through I think it is a miracle that everyone got out alive"

Chris' wife Kate is also the Finance Manager at the hotel and took out private security after the fire when she heard about the threats and the questions being asked by Kay:  "He was asking if we had children so we decided to get some security.

"it was a terrifying situation, the shock of the fire mixed in with being told about the things he said and the threats of made then seeing what he'd done to the castle, it was vary scary."