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Arsonist groom to be sentenced

A groom is due to be sentenced for starting a devastating fire at the country house where his wedding reception was held.

The blaze caused £6 million worth of damage to Peckforton Castle Hotel, near Tarporley, Cheshire, and led to almost 200 people, including 11 children, being evacuated.

Max Kay, 36, of Waylands Drive, Hunts Cross, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to a charge of arson that was reckless as to whether life was endangered at Chester Crown Court last December.

Kay was due to be sentenced last week but failed to attend the hearing because he was "drunk and could not be processed by police officers at the police station" in time for the hearing, Judge Roger Dutton said.

The defendant had been arrested the previous night for cutting off his electronic tag, the court heard. Kay was later remanded in custody until the latest hearing.

The fire broke out in a wing of Peckforton Castle at around 5am on Sunday, June 19.

The property developer and father-of-two was the groom at a wedding party which had been using the venue at the time of the blaze.

A previous hearing was told that Kay and his wife had rowed with staff and the owners of the castle earlier that day over money.

The court heard that Kay was caught on CCTV going into and coming out of the drawing room where the blaze started.

Kay will be sentenced at Chester Crown Court later.

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