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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.
“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.
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.
The trial has started into the deaths of four Warwickshire firefighters.
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.
A trial's been told that four fire fighters died needlessly because they were sent into a burning building where no one needed rescuing.Read the full story ›