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Bridegroom jailed for hotel arson
An arsonist who set fire to the country house hotel where he was holding his wedding reception has been jailed for six years.
The blaze caused an estimated £5.4 million of damage to Peckforton Castle Hotel, near Tarporley, Cheshire, and led to 117 people, including 13 children, being evacuated.
Max Kay, 37, of Waylands Drive, Hunts Cross, Liverpool, pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court in December to a charge of arson that was reckless as to whether life was endangered.
The fire broke out in a wing of the castle at around 5am on June 19 last year. Kay, a property developer and father of four, was the bridegroom in a wedding party which had been using the venue at the time of the blaze.
The court heard that he had rowed with staff and the owners of the hotel over money and he was caught on CCTV going into and coming out of the drawing room where the blaze started.
It heard that Kay was under "enormous financial pressure", had a big ego and wanted to impress friends and family with a swanky wedding - though his property business had failed in the economic crash.
But Kay 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: "It was a miracle that nobody was either seriously hurt or killed by your actions. There is a long background to this - principally surrounding, it would appear, your ego.
"Having been made bankrupt and very recently discharged from that bankruptcy, 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 fiends and family and those you wanted to impress. In the end, you sought, and achieved, revenge against the proprietors of Peckforton Castle."