A groom was warned he faces jail for starting a fire at Peckforton Castle near Nantwich where his wedding reception was being held.

Max Kay caused £6 million damage to the venue and sparked a mass evacuation of almost 200 guests and staff, including 11 children.

Kay, 36, of Waylands Drive, Hunts Cross, Liverpool, pleaded guilty to arson that was reckless as to whether life was endangered at Chester Crown Court today (December 2).

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”  he would face custody.

The fire broke out in a wing of the castle at around 5am on Sunday June 19 this year.

Kay, a property developer and father-of-two, was the groom at a wedding party which had been using the venue at the time.

Kay and his wife had rowed with staff and the owners of the castle earlier that day over money.

Patrick Thompson, defending, said the offence came at a time when the defendant was under “great personal strain” and he was “near bankrupt”.

The hearing was told that Kay was caught on CCTV going into and coming out of the drawing room where the blaze started and which was set out for the next day’s wedding.

He will be sentenced at Chester Crown Court on February 3.

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