Atherstone-on-Stour fire deaths detention defended
The detective in charge of an inquiry into four firefighters' deaths has defended a decision to hold three fire service managers in custody overnight.
John Averis, Ashley Stephens and Darren Yates-Badley died at the fire scene in Atherstone-on-Stour, Warwickshire, in 2007. Ian Reid died in hospital.
Paul Simmons, Timothy Woodward and Adrian Ashley deny four counts of manslaughter after the warehouse blaze.
Det Supt Ken Lawrence denied it was overkill to hold Mr Simmons overnight.
Neil Fitzgibbon, defending Mr Simmons at Stafford Crown Court, said his client had 27 years of service as a firefighter and had received medals for long service and good conduct.'Beneficial for them'
The barrister asked Det Supt Lawrence if - with the benefit of hindsight - he thought it was "a little bit of overkill" to hold Mr Simmons in custody overnight during two days of questioning.
Det Supt Lawrence, who described the removal of items such as belts as standard procedure, replied: "No, I don't."
He said the simultaneous arrests of Mr Woodward, 51, Mr Simmons, 50, and Mr Ashley, 45, were necessary to allow a "prompt and effective" investigation of the fatal fire.
Explaining the decision to conduct simultaneous interviews with the three men, Det Supt Lawrence said: "I believed that because the three suspects knew each other and worked together... it was beneficial for them that they were interviewed simultaneously."
The strategy for the arrests avoided the possibility of the suspects conferring with each other, he added.'Substantial risk'
The Crown alleges that Mr Woodward, Mr Simmons and Mr Ashley acted negligently during the fire in November 2007.
The prosecution alleges that Mr Stephens, 20, Mr Yates-Badley, 24, Mr Averis, 27, and Mr Reid, 44, lost their lives needlessly after being sent into an obviously dangerous situation for no good reason.
Mr Simmons, from Hampton Magna, Warwickshire, and Mr Ashley, from Nuneaton, are alleged to have breached their duty of care to those who were killed by "exposing them to substantial risk to life when no other lives were at risk".
Mr Woodward, from Leamington Spa, is alleged to have breached his duty of care to the dead men by failing to end the deployment of colleagues wearing breathing apparatus for the purpose of "offensive" firefighting.
The trial was adjourned until Monday.