Bridegroom admits being Peckforton Castle firestarter

Liverpool businessman Max Kay is facing a jail sentence after pleading guilty to starting a blaze at his own wedding, held at Cheshire hotel, conference and events venue Peckforton Castle, 19 June. A wing of the Grade I-listed Castle, near Tarporley, was destroyed.

A court heard that bridegroom Kay had been captured on CCTV going into a drawing room where a fire subsequently started.

The Castle’s management reacted “with relief” to Kay’s admission at Chester Crown Court. Managing Director, Chris Naylor said staff, guests and clients could now “move forward”.

“Onwards and upwards and business as usual has been very much our mottos since the day after the arson attack and it is now even more possible without the cause lingering in the back of our minds.

“Many of the staff are particularly thankful that they don’t have to go through the process of providing evidence at a gruelling and emotional court case. We could be telling a very different story today if it wasn’t for the three young men who risked their lives to evacuate the building.”

Around 200 people, including 11 children, had to be evacuated and more than 100 firemen were scrambled to tackle the blaze.

Judge Roger Dutton told Kay it was inevitable he would go to jail when sentenced in February 2012.

A previous hearing was told that Kay and his wife had rowed with the castle’s owners about late payment for the wedding earlier in the day, before getting into an argument later in the evening over the bar bill.

It is understood the groom took umbrage at being told he needed to pay more cash up front once the tab dropped below £100.

Peckforton Castle is now concentrating on a relaunch party planned for February 2012 and the reopening of four of the damaged bedrooms, the Long Gallery bar and Library function room on 9 December 2011.

A £6m insurance payout was instrumental in speeding rebuilding works.

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Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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