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Fire officers found not guilty of manslaughter in Atherstone on Stour trial

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

Trial into deaths of 4 fire officers following fire at warehouse in Warwickshire Credit: ITV Central

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.


Statement from Chief Fire Officer, Graeme Smith

“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.”

– Graeme Smith, Chief Fire Officer, Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service

Fire chief acquital

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.


Fire service manager found not guilty

A fire service manager accused of manslaughter of four firefighters killed in a Warwickshire warehouse blaze has been found not guilty.

Paul Simmons, Watch Manager from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service was standing trial at Stafford Crown Court.

He appeared alongside Watch Manager Adrian Ashley, and station manager Timothy Woodward.

The judge told jurors there was no case to answer for Mr Simmons, who faced four counts of gross negligence manslaughter.

The trial of Ashley and Woodward who both deny four counts of manslaughter, will continue.

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