A trial following the 2007 deaths of four fire-fighters has commenced at Stafford Crown Court. Ian Reid, John Averis, Ashley Stephens and Darren Yates-Badley were killed in a fire at a vegetable packing factory at Atherstone on Stour in Warwickshire in November 2007 after being sent into a burning building.  Managers Timothy Woodward, Paul Simmons and Adrian Ashley deny four counts of manslaughter by gross negligence.  A search operation involving in excess of 100 fire-fighters was later carried out to recover the four men.

The prosecution barrister, Richard Matthews QC, stated to the court that the blaze had not been properly assessed by the officers in charge who are required to continually review their tactics every twenty minutes. The failure to adequately assess the situation led to sending the fire-fighters into an unnecessarily dangerous situation with inadequate resources despite no persons being reported missing or unaccounted for.

Matthews further added this case was not about “what some people see as the irritating trivialities of health and safety red tape” but “about the needless loss of four lives, four individuals...”

The trial is expected to continue for 10 weeks.