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  1. ITV Report

Business owner guilty of deaths at fireworks store

Richard Pearson, who owned the shop, was badly injured in the fire Photo: PA

A business owner has been convicted of two manslaughter charges after a deadly blaze engulfed his shop which he had "rammed" full with fireworks.

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

He was accused of storing "up to 10 times the permitted limit" of fireworks inside his warehouse.

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

Pearson, who was badly injured in the blaze, denied both charges of manslaughter.

Stewart Staples, 57 and Simon Hillier 41, both died in the fire at the warehouse in Stafford in 2014. Credit: Staffordshire Police

Pearson told jurors that he believed Mr Hillier may have been carrying a homemade firework which was set off "by friction".

The prosecution alleged that Pearson was guilty of gross negligence in failing to take reasonable care in the storing and handling of explosives in the run-up to the deaths.

He will be sentenced at the same court on June 13.