1. ITV Report

Trial over the deaths of four Warwickshire firefighters

A trial's been told that four fire fighters died needlessly because they were sent into a burning building where no one needed rescuing.

Ian Reid, John Averis, Darren Yates Badley and Ashley Stephens died after the fire at a vegetable packing factory at Atherstone on Stour in Warwickshire in November 2007.

Prosecuting counsel Richard Matthews QC said the building had been evacuated and no one was reported missing or unaccounted for when the men wearing breathing apparatus were sent in.

No one was in peril, no one required rescue he told Stafford Crown Court.

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue's Chief Fire Officer Graeme Smith arriving at court today Credit: ITV Central

Paul Simmons, Adrian Ashley and Tim Woodward were senior fire-fighters in command of the operation.

They are charged with gross negligence manslaughter of the four dead firefighters.

Richard Matthews said three defendants so badly failed to fulfil their duties to the firefighters under their command that their actions amount to what lawyers call gross negligence.

It's the crown's case that the failings of the three defendants were a cause of the deaths of the four firefighters.

Protestors at Stafford Crown Court today Credit: ITV Central

He said the four fire fighters were exposed to obvious and unnecessary danger.

They lost their lives, not in a valiant effort to rescue anyone but having been ordered into a smoke-filled large storage compartment containing mostly cardboard boxes, labels and some old furniture.

The trial was told that two teams of four firefighters wearing breathing apparatus were sent into the factory.

The four men were in one team whose call sign was Red 1.

At 7.15pm they sent out and emergency radio call.

The second breathing apparatus team were ordered to locate and rescue them.

They found Ian Reid who'd become separated from his colleagues.

He was in a disorientated and panicked state, Richard Matthews, prosecuting said.

He rushed away from his would-be rescuers attempting to find his way out from the storage area.

Fire officers arriving at Stafford Crown Court today Credit: ITV Central

The rescue team failed to find the other three men and were forced to retreat.

Successive rescue teams were sent in over the next one and a half hours.

On team found two lifeless bodies.

At 9.15, the operation was halted as the building had become wholly unstable.

Fire managers, Paul Simmons, Adrian Ashley and Tim Woodward deny manslaughter by gross negligence.

The trial continues.

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