Crown Court: Teenage girl in the clear over fatal fire
A girl accused of starting a blaze that killed a firefighter was "guilty only of being careless", a judge said as the prosecution case against her was dropped.
The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was due to go on trial next Monday on an allegation that she committed arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.
But additional scientific evidence emerged which contradicted earlier findings that an accidental cause of the fire in Manchester city centre in July 2013 could be ruled out.
Yesterday, the City's Crown Court was told that fresh examination of the evidence had shown that characteristics of the blaze ignition were consistent with a cigarette being accidentally discarded.
Father-of-two Stephen Hunt (38) was one of 60 firefighters who tackled the blaze at Paul's Hair World in Oldham Street in the city, but he got into difficulty while inside the building.
The ex-soldier, who had been a firefighter for five years, was taken to hospital but did not recover from his injuries.