Man admits starting fatal fire at Aberystwyth hotel
Damion Anthony Harris, of Llanbadarn Fawr, Aberystwyth, pleaded guilty to manslaughter, inflicting grievous bodily harm (GBH), arson and being reckless as to whether life was endangered when he appeared in the dock of Swansea Crown Court yesterday, for what should have been the first day of his trial.
The court heard that firefighters had led nine adults and three children to safety from the property in the early hours of 25 July, but that one guest remained unaccounted for.
Seven weeks after the fire the remains of Juozas Tunaitis, a contractor who had been working as a fire safety officer at Aberystwyth University, were recovered from hotel in Marine Terrace. The recovery had been slowed by the extent of damage to the property.
The GBH charge admitted by Harris related to a second guest, who was injured when falling from the burning building.
Mike Jones, prosecuting, said the pleas submitted were acceptable to the Crown and “reflect the criminality on that particular evening”.
Judge Paul Thomas QC gave the defendant until Tuesday (5 March) to decide if he accepts the account of events put forward by the prosecution.
If he disputes the prosecution’s account the judge will hear evidence in the case and decide on what basis to pass sentence – a process known as a Newton hearing.
Article credit: The Caterer