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Groom admits wedding night arson

A groom has admitted starting a devastating fire at the country house where his wedding reception was held.

The blaze caused £6 million worth of damage to the 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 when he appeared at Chester Crown Court.

He denied a count of arson with intent to destroy or damage property and to endanger life and this was accepted by the prosecution.

Judge Roger Dutton granted Kay bail with conditions but said it was "inevitable" that he would face a custodial sentence.

The fire broke out in a wing of the 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.

Around 100 firefighters tackled the blaze at the Grade 1-listed property, a 19th-century country house built in the style of a castle.

Duncan Bould, prosecuting, told the court the fire had caused "in the region" of £6 million of damage.

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