Stafford Business Owner Guilty Of Manslaughter Over Fireworks Blaze

22 May 2018, 16:20 | Updated: 22 May 2018, 16:24

Stafford firework factory fire

A man who owned a business in Stafford selling fireworks has been found guilty of the manslaughter of two men who died in a fire.

Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, was found guilty of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples in October 2014.

Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57, both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling products of combustion during the fierce fire at Pearson's business unit in Baswich, Stafford.

The 44-year-old defendant, of Holyrood Close, Stafford, looked to the ground in the dock at Stafford Crown Court as he was found guilty of both charges of manslaughter by gross negligence.

Pearson, who denied both charges, told jurors last week that he believed the fire may have been started by a home-made firework, causing an explosion to "roll" from a stairwell across his shop.

Adjourning sentence until June 13 at the same court, Judge Michael Chambers QC said of Pearson: "He has denied any responsibility for this incident.

"He has shown no remorse whatsoever and he has blamed others which is an aggravating feature in this case.

"Anyone who looks after fireworks does so under an extremely high duty of care."