Warwickshire County Council will be sentenced for health and safety breaches linked to a fire which claimed the lives of four firefighters.
It has been more than five years since four firefighters were killed in a warehouse fire in in Atherstone-on-Stour, Warwickshire.
Two fire officers have been acquitted of manslaughter charges following the deaths of four of their colleagues at a warehouse fire in 2007.
Detective Superintendent Ken Lawrence, the officer in charge of the Atherstone-on-Stour fire investigation, said the force had to jump though hoops to get to witnesses.
Two fire officers, Adrian Ashley and Tim Woodward, were today acquitted of manslaughter by gross negligence in the trial into the deaths of four of their colleagues who died at a warehouse blaze in 2007.
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Chief Fire Officers Association are calling for a formal investigation into why Warwickshire fire fighters Timothy Woodward and Adrian Ashley were prosecuted for alleged manslaughter.
The decision follows the acquittal of the fire officers who faced four counts of manslaughter following the deaths of four of their colleagues at a warehouse fire in Atherstone-on-Stour, Warwickshire in 2007.
– Graeme Smith, Chief Fire Officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service
“I am very pleased that the case against our three Incident Commanders has socomprehensively collapsed. I expected nothing less. It is now clear that these cases should never have been brought to court. I am relieved that their ordeal is over but I also feel a sense of sorrow and remembrance for the four brave fire fighters who died at Atherstone-on-Stour in 2007. We will now be seeking assurances from ministers that prosecutions like this never happen again.”
Two men have been found not guilty in the trial into the death of four fire fighters, Ashley Stephens, Darren Yates-Badley, John Averis and Ian Reid, who died at a warehouse blaze in 2007 in Atherstone on Stour.
Adrian Ashley and Tim Woodward were senior fire-fighters in command of the operation.
They were found not guilty today at Stafford Crown Court after being charged with manslaughter by gross negligence.
More to follow.
Jury has retired to consider verdict in trial of two senior firefighters
Ian Reid, John Averis, Darren yates Badley and Ashley Stephens died after the fire at a vegetable warehouse in Atherstone in Stour in Warwickshire in 2007.
Adrian Ashley and Tim Woodward have denied manslaughter by gross negligence over the men's deaths.
The judge told the jury today that the crown's case was that Adrian Ashley was negligent in sending the men in to the fire, and he and Tim Woodward were negligent in not withdrawing them from the fire. The case continues.
A senior firefighter has today been acquitted on the direction of a judge over the manslaughter of four of his colleagues who died in a fire five years ago.
– Graeme Smith, Chief Fire Officer, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service
“For legal reasons, I can only comment on the case of Watch Manager Simmons. All I can say right now is that I’ve listened to the evidence in Court for several weeks and this is undoubtedly the right outcome.
“My thoughts and prayers remain with the families and friends of the firefighters who lost their lives in the Atherstone-on-Stour fire, indeed with all those involved in this tragedy.”
ITV Central's Mark Gough reports from Stafford Crown Court where Paul Simmons, one of three senior fire fighters in charge of the operation to fight a blaze in Atherstone in Warwickshire in 2007.
A huge vegetable packing warehouse was on fire and four firefighters died in the blaze. They were breathing apparatus crew who wen into the warehouse. Mr Simmons and two other fire chiefs were charged with negligence by gross manslaughter.
Today, the judge directed the jury to find Mr Simmons not guilty. He said Mr Simmons handed over control before the order was given to send the four men in.
The two other senior fire officers are still on trial. They deny the charges.