Family relief as Atherstone firefighter acquitted

By Court Reporter 21/05 Updated: 22/05 07:57

Latest News

Buy photos » Firefighters at the scene of the Atherstone tragedy. (s)

THE FAMILY of a fire service officer acquitted of the manslaughter of four colleagues in the Atherstone warehouse blaze say they are 'greatly relieved'.

Paul Simmons, 50, was found not guilty five weeks into his trial at Stafford Crown Court after the judge directed the jury to acquit him.

The case against two other men, Adrian Ashley and Timothy Woodward, continues. They were incident commanders at the time of fire, back in November 2007 and both deny manslaughter by gross negligence.

Firefighters John Averis, Ashley Stephens and Darren Yates-Badley died in the fire at the vegetable packing warehouse.

Ian Reid, 44, died later in hospital from smoke inhalation and suffocation.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said of the verdict: "As a watch manager, Paul Simmons is a frontline firefighter.

"He is not and never has been a senior officer, let alone a fire chief as sometimes reported.

"The threat of prosecution has been hanging over Paul since November 2007 when four of his fellow firefighters died at Atherstone.

"Paul and his family are greatly relieved at the 'not guilty' verdict. There are also the families of those who died and our thoughts remain with them as they continue to deal with their tragic loss.

"Those families, the colleagues of those who died, and firefighters and officers across the UK want to get to the bottom of what happened on that night. We all need to know what happened so that lessons can be learned and we can try to ensure such tragedies are avoided in the future.

"Four firefighters died in tragic and terrible circumstances. We have a duty to the families of those who died, their colleagues and firefighter s across the UK - who are still going into burning buildings - to learn lessons and to make our work as safe as it can be in the very hazardous and hostile environments that we work in."

The trial continues in regards to the other two defendants.

Regional news »


Stratford Observer
Founder of Street Pastors to hit Stratford's streets

THE FOUNDER of the Street Pastors will join local volunteers ...

Rugby Observer
Harmful medication missing in Rugby

HARMFUL medication has been lost in Rugby, Warwickshire Police have ...

Coventry Observer
'No site in Coventry for Sky Blues stadium' claims councillor

THERE are no suitable sites in Coventry for a new ...

Redditch Standard
Holocaust survivor lights liberation candle

A CANDLE marking 70 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau ...

Business Directory »

See your advert here »