Peckforton Castle hotel owner finally puts fire behind him after jailing of arsonist bridegroom

By Emma Eversham

- Last updated on GMT

The owner of Peckforton Castle hotel says bridegroom Max Kay's sentencing means his business can finally move on and draw a line under last year's fire
The owner of Peckforton Castle hotel says bridegroom Max Kay's sentencing means his business can finally move on and draw a line under last year's fire
Peckforton Castle hotel's owner Chris Naylor, has said his business can finally move on after hearing the news that Max Kay, the bridegroom who deliberately set fire to the hotel following an argument over payment, has been jailed for six years for arson. 

Kay, 37, of Waylands Drive, Hunts Cross, Liverpool, pleaded guilty at Chester Crown Court in December last year to a charge of arson, after he was charged with endangering lives and causing £6m of damage to the Cheshire hotel following his wedding reception in June last year. 

The court heard how the property developer and father-of-four had argued with the hotel's staff and owner over late payment for the reception and a bar bill before taking revenge on the business.

Moving on

Following the sentencing at Chester Crown Court on Tuesday 20 March, Peckforton Castle managing director and owner Chris Naylor, who had to close part of the hotel while repair work was carried out on damaged rooms, said he was now looking forward to putting the events behind him. 

"The last eight months have been extremely tough on myself, my family, the Peckforton Castle team, our brides, grooms, hotel guests and local, wider community," he said. "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."

Ego and revenge

Almost 120 people, including 13 children, had to be evacuated from the hotel when the fire broke out around 5am on 19 June. Around 100 firefighters tackled the blaze, which fire investigators later found out had started when curtains in the hotel's drawing room had been set alight. 

Kay, who had drunk about 20 double vodkas had had been caught on CCTV going into and coming out of the room, which had been set up for one of the castle's wedding coordinator's weddings for the following day. 

The court heard that Kay had been under 'enormous financial pressure' to host an impressive wedding for friends and family even though his property business had failed. He had resented being chased by the hotel's owners for payments. 

Passing sentence on Tuesday, 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."

Related topics: Business, Venues, Hotels

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