By Rob Cox Monday 19 August 2013 Updated: 20/08 12:58
INQUESTS into the deaths of two Alcester firefighters killed in the Atherstone warehouse blaze will not be resumed, it has been ruled.
Ashley Stephens, 20, and Darren Yates-Badley, 24, died at the scene of the vegetable packing plant fire in November 2007 along with their colleague John Averis, 27. Ian Reid, 44, died later in hospital from smoke inhalation and suffocation.
But on Friday (August 16), Coroner Sean McGovern decided there was insufficient cause to reopen his inquiries considering the extensive legal proceedings that resulted from the blaze.
These included the trial of three senior fire officers who were cleared of manslaughter by gross negligence in May 2012.
The families of the four men said they were 'extremely disappointed' by the ruling.
Speaking outside Warwickshire Justice Centre in Leamington following the decision, Julie Reid, widow of Ian Reid, said the coroner had denied them the opportunity to hear all the evidence from Warwickshire firefighters and the chance to question the three incident commanders who had faced trial.
She added the families were now considering how to take the matter forward.
The inquests first opened in November 2007, but were adjourned to await the conclusion of criminal charges which also resulted in Warwickshire County Council being fined £30,000 for breaching health and safety legislation.
The three officers acquitted of manslaughter had written to the coroner arguing against resumption of the inquests.
In his report for the hearing, Mr McGovern said: "The view I have formed is that Warwickshire Police have fully investigated these deaths.
"It is clear that the crown court trial, which lasted five or six weeks, heard evidence on matters, which would be likely to be within the central scope of an inquest.
"Although it would not be the intention of anyone, I believe any inquest would in effect, be a re-litigation of the criminal charges."
He added the families had felt 'bitterly let down' by the crown court verdicts and they believed the whole truth had not come out.
He said they were also aggrieved the three defendants had not given evidence in the trial but concluded that in the context of all the evidence heard, this could not be a decisive factor in his decision.
Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service issued a statement shortly after the hearing which said they respected the coroner's decision and their thoughts were with the families.
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