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Arrogant firework shop owner jailed for killing customer and colleague in fire

Richard Hartley-Parkinson

Arrogant firework shop owner jailed for killing customer and colleague in fire

Richard Pearson, 43, has been jailed for 10 years for manslaughter at Stafford Crown Court (Picture: PA)

An arrogant business owner convicted of two manslaughter charges after a fire engulfed a shop he rammed with fireworks has been jailed for 10 years.

Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, was found guilty last month of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples in the blaze in October 2014.

Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57, both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling products of combustion during the devastating fire at Pearsons business unit in Baswich, Stafford.

Pearson, of Holyrood Close, Stafford, had denied both charges after attempting to blame others for what happened, including Mr Hillier – a move the judge described as not reasonable in any sense of the word.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: 30/10/2014. Roads are blocked after a fire at a fireworks factory in Tilcon Aveune, Stafford.The fire at SP Plastics.) - A business owner has been convicted of two manslaughter charges after a deadly blaze engulfed his shop which he had rammed full with fireworks.Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, was found guilty of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples in October 2014. Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57,both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling products of combustion during the fierce fire at Pearsons business unit in Baswich, Stafford.SEE CATERS COPY

Two men were killed in a fire at a firework shop at Pearsons business unit in Baswich, Stafford (Picture: Caters)

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: 30/10/2014. Roads are blocked after a fire at a fireworks factory in Tilcon Aveune, Stafford.The fire at SP Plastics.) - A business owner has been convicted of two manslaughter charges after a deadly blaze engulfed his shop which he had rammed full with fireworks.Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, was found guilty of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples in October 2014. Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57,both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling products of combustion during the fierce fire at Pearsons business unit in Baswich, Stafford.SEE CATERS COPY

Pearson, of Holyrood Close, Stafford, had denied both charges after attempting to blame others for what happened (Picture: Caters)

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At Stafford Crown Court, Judge Michael Chambers QC insisted this was not a case where remorse loomed large and the defendant had given the impression of being rather arrogant.

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Sentencing Pearson on Wednesday, the judge said: You have known your true culpability from the start yet you have chosen to falsely blame others.

Despite being very knowledgeable about fireworks and the risks they pose, motivated by financial profit, you have demonstrated an arrogant recklessness for the safety of others in the storage and handling of dangerous fireworks.

From the start, when the enormity of what you had done and the likely consequences for you struck home, you untruthfully said to the paramedics and a police officer that someone must have thrown a firework into your shop.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: 30/10/2014. Roads are blocked after a fire at a fireworks factory in Tilcon Aveune, Stafford.The fire at SP Plastics.) - A business owner has been convicted of two manslaughter charges after a deadly blaze engulfed his shop which he had rammed full with fireworks.Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, was found guilty of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples in October 2014. Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57,both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling products of combustion during the fierce fire at Pearsons business unit in Baswich, Stafford.SEE CATERS COPY

At Stafford Crown Court, Judge Michael Chambers QC insisted this was not a case where remorse loomed large (Picture: Caters)

Undated handout file photo issued by Staffordshire Police of Simon Hillier, who died after a blaze engulfed a shop which was "rammed" full with fireworks. Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, has been jailed for 10 years at Stafford Crown Court for the manslaughter of Mr Hillier and Stewart Staples. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday June 13, 2018. See PA story COURTS Fireworks. Photo credit should read: Staffordshire Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

He tried to blame colleague Simon Hillier for the fire (Picture: PA)

The judge said Pearson had chosen to deliberately flout the regulations and fundamental safety requirements on a grand scale, adding that he was clearly aware of the risk of death arising from your negligent conduct.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Staples wife Angela said despite being a devout Christian for 28 years, the incident had led to a complete lack of faith.

She said: I was part of a close, happy family… until October 30 when our lives changed forever.

We still struggle with the pain, anger and grief of losing Stewart. I still find sleep hard to come by.

Undated handout photo issued by Staffordshire Police of Steward Staples, who died after a blaze engulfed a shop which was "rammed" full with fireworks. Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, has been convicted of two manslaughter charges. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday May 22, 2018. The director of SP Fireworks was found guilty of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Mr Staples in October 2014. See PA story COURTS Fireworks. Photo credit should read: Staffordshire Police/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.

In a victim impact statement read to the court, Mr Staples wife Angela said despite being a devout Christian for 28 years, the incident had led to a complete lack of faith (Picture: PA)

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: 30/10/2014. Roads are blocked after a fire at a fireworks factory in Tilcon Aveune, Stafford.The fire at SP Plastics.) - A business owner has been convicted of two manslaughter charges after a deadly blaze engulfed his shop which he had rammed full with fireworks.Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, was found guilty of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples in October 2014. Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57,both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling products of combustion during the fierce fire at Pearsons business unit in Baswich, Stafford.SEE CATERS COPY

Prosecutor Allan Compton added that Mr Hilliers family had been left broken-hearted by his death (Picture: Caters)

Stewarts life was cut short by the lack of care of Richard Pearson. The ripples from Stewarts death have spread far and wide.

Prosecutor Allan Compton added that Mr Hilliers family had been left broken-hearted by his death.

Mr Compton told the court Pearson had been flouting the rules with a deliberate nature of illegal activity over a number of years.

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He said there had been a degree of recklessness over his two businesses – SP Fireworks and SP Plastics.

PIC FROM Caters News - (PICTURED: 30/10/2014. Roads are blocked after a fire at a fireworks factory in Tilcon Aveune, Stafford.The fire at SP Plastics.) - A business owner has been convicted of two manslaughter charges after a deadly blaze engulfed his shop which he had rammed full with fireworks.Richard Pearson, director of SP Fireworks, was found guilty of causing the deaths of colleague Simon Hillier and customer Stewart Staples in October 2014. Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57,both from Hednesford, died as a result of inhaling products of combustion during the fierce fire at Pearsons business unit in Baswich, Stafford.SEE CATERS COPY

Mr Compton told the court Pearson had been flouting the rules with a deliberate nature of illegal activity over a number of years (Picture: Caters)

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