Castle fire groom jailed for 6 years

Peckforton Castle Reacts to Sentencing

Leading Cheshire hotel, wedding, conference and events venue, Peckforton Castle, reacted yesterday following the sentencing of bridegroom Max Kay who set fire to the room where his wedding reception was held. Max Kay, 37, of Liverpool, admitted starting the blaze at Peckforton Castle in June last year. Chester Crown Court heard that Kay was "massively" drunk and had argued over the bar tab and wider wedding bill.

Managing Director and owner, Chris Naylor, is looking forward to archiving the event, "we are delighted that a conclusion has finally been reached. The last 8 months have been extremely tough on myself, my family, the Peckforton Castle team, our brides, grooms, hotel guests and local, wider community. Today we are now finally able to draw a line under the saga and continue to move forward with our business and concentrate on our family. The event is firmly archived in the great history of our wonderful Castle and we are well and truly ready to move on. I'd like to take this opportunity to once again say a huge thank you to the team who assisted with the evacuation. Without their life saving actions we could be telling a very different story today and for that reason I am eternally grateful. Thank you as well to everyone who has supported us through this difficult period and do keep your kind messages coming they are all very much appreciated!"

The groom was sentenced after admitting arson that was reckless as to whether life was endangered. About 100 fire-fighters tackled the blaze and almost 120 people, including 13 children, were evacuated when the fire broke out at 05:00 BST on 19 June.

Prosecutors told the court that Kay, of Waylands Drive in Hunts Cross, and his wife had rowed with staff and the owners of the castle earlier in the day over late payment to the venue and then again later in the evening about a bar bill.

The defendant had drunk about 20 double vodkas, the court heard, and warned staff that the hotel finance director was going to "get it". "Nobody crosses Max," he was alleged to have said.

Kay was seen on CCTV going into and coming out of the drawing room, which was set up for the following day's, ironically one of the Castle's wedding coordinator's, wedding.

Fire investigators later discovered the blaze had been started when curtains in that room were set alight.

The court heard that Kay was under "enormous financial pressure", had a big ego and wanted to impress friends and family even though his property business had failed. He resented being chased by the owners of the castle for payments and took revenge while "massively" drunk after they threatened to cancel the occasion just three days before the wedding unless they received 15,000 still outstanding.

Passing sentence, Judge Roger Dutton said: "There is a long background to this - principally surrounding, it would appear, your ego. Having been made bankrupt... you embarked upon a wedding that would involve paying a figure of approximately 25,000 for a ceremony you could nowhere near afford. It was all to maintain a bravado with friends and family and to make it appear you could afford such largesse to friends and family and those you wanted to impress. In the end you sought, and achieved, revenge against the proprietors of Peckforton Castle."

Kay, a property developer and father of four, gave no reaction as he was sentenced.

About the venue

Peckforton Castle is a four star hotel, wedding and events venue.

The Castle has won Conference Venue of the Year 2011 awarded by HBAA, winner of "Excellence in Business Tourism" awarded by Marketing Cheshire and silver awards in the M&IT Awards for Best UK Hotel and Best Unusual Venue.

Around 25% of the Castle was damaged but conferences, events and even weddings went ahead as much to plan as possible. Extensive rebuilding and restoration work has begun, in conjunction with English Heritage and was reopened fully and relaunched in February 2012.

During 2010 the hotel underwent a 1.7m restoration programme to provide additional facilities including the 2010 Brasserie, beauty treatment area Tranquillity at Peckforton Castle and 11 new en-suite bedrooms.

The Castle's 1851 Restaurant is holder of 2 AA Rosettes and a Taste Cheshire Award.

Commissioned in 1840 by John Tollemache, Peckforton Castle was designed by famous architect Anthony Salvin.

Peckforton Castle is English Heritage Grade I listed, family owned hotel nestled in the heart of Cheshire with excellent links from North Wales, Liverpool and Manchester.

There are currently 48 en-suite bedrooms. The Castle is a very popular wedding venue hosting more than 220 weddings each year.

Boasting excellent corporate facilities, the Castle offers a unique corporate experience to business guests.

Activities include Falconry displays, the Landrover Experience, team building options and onsite spa treatments.

To find out more about venue hire at Peckforton Castle for your Wedding or a corporate event, please contact our Venue Reservations team on 0207 377 1434 or click here to email us.

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