1. ITV Report

Groom who set fire to wedding hotel is jailed

A groom who set fire to a castle where he was holding his wedding reception has been jailed for six years.

37-year-old Max Kay from Hunts Cross in Liverpool caused nearly £6 million worth of damage to Peckforton Castle Hotel near Cheshire.

The court heard details of Max Kay's huge financial problems Credit: Press Association

Over 100 people - who were unharmed - had to be led to safety in June last year.

The jury was told he had an argument with staff at the hotel over a bar bill.

Max Kay was caught on CCTV going into and coming out of the drawing room where the blaze started.

The court heard that Max Kay:

  • Had a big ego
  • Wanted to impress friends and family
  • Under huge financial pressure
  • His property business had failed in the economic crash

Kay resented being chased by the owners of the castle for payments and took "revenge" while "massively" drunk after they threatened to cancel the event just three days before the wedding unless they received £15,000 still outstanding.

It was a miracle that nobody was either seriously hurt or killed by your actions. There is a long background to this - principally surrounding, it would appear, your ego. Having been made bankrupt and very recently discharged from that bankruptcy, you embarked upon a wedding that would involve paying a figure of approximately £25,000 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 fiends and family and those you wanted to impress.

– Judge Roger Dutton

Half of Cheshire's firefighting resources were called to the blaze and help was even called in from North Wales and Merseyside.

Other guests described Kay looking at the hotel while it was on fire looking "chilled".

He claimed his cigarette had brushed the curtains.

This was dismissed by fire experts who said it would take a "concerted effort" to set them on fire.