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Fireworks shop owner jailed over deaths of two men in huge fire

Credit: PA

A business owner from Stafford has been jailed for 10 years after two men died following a huge fire at his fireworks shop.

Richard Pearson was found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence over the deaths of Simon Hiller, 41, and Stewart Staples, 57, in October 2014.

Mr Hillier and Mr Staples, both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling deadly smoke during the fire.

Pearson was himself badly injured. During the trial, was accused of storing "up to 10 times the permitted limit" of fireworks in his business unit in SP Plastics in Baswich, Stafford.

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 had failed to take reasonable care in the storing and handling of explosives in the run-up to the deaths.

After he was found guilty, 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.

– Judge Michael Chambers QC