Owner in court over deaths of two men after blaze at fireworks warehouse

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A business owner is due in court today charged in connection with the deaths of two men in a blaze at a fireworks warehouse.

Richard Pearson will appear before magistrates in Cannock, Staffordshire, to face two charges of gross negligence manslaughter relating to the deaths of Stewart Staples and Gordon Hillier.

The charges against Pearson, aged 43, of Holyrood Close, Stafford, allege that he breached his duty of care by failing to take reasonable care in the storage and handling of explosives.

Mr Hillier, 41, and Mr Staples, 57, both from Hednesford, died after fire engulfed an industrial unit in Baswich, Stafford, in October 2014.

Mr Hillier was working at the site, while it is thought Mr Staples was a customer. Both men were identified using DNA testing.

In statements issued shortly after their deaths, Mr Hillier was described by his family as a "fantastic" son and brother and a "terrific" father, while relatives of Mr Staples said he was a devoted family man.