Penhallow Hotel, Newquay, Fire Tragedy, August 2007

The Penhallow Hotel fire in Newquay was never a straight forward case – and several years later the investigation is still ongoing, with nobody prosecuted for causing the deaths of three holidaymakers. Just after midnight on 17/18 August 2007, a call was received that the Penhallow Hotel was on fire. By the end of the night one was dead, two were missing (found later in the rubble), the hotel was completely gutted and demolished – and a seemingly never-ending investigation started in what was deemed to be murder.

The three holidaymakers who died in the fire were Joan Harper (80), Monica Hughes (86) and her son Peter Hughes (43).

Here’s a timeline of events and links to further information on the fire at the Penhallow Hotel:

18/08/2007Fire broke out at the Penhallow Hotel, 3 holidaymakers died.
19/08/2007Safety crews move in to demolish the Penhallow Hotel, the day after a fire killed three holidaymakers.BBC News
21/08/2007Human remains found in rubble of Newquay hotel fire.DailyMail
04/11/2007Briefing notes by The Chief Fire Officer, Cornwall County Fire Brigade.CornwallCountyCouncil
24/01/2008Two held on hotel fire. The pair, aged 44 and 21, held on suspicion of murder.TheSun
14/05/2008Two arrested over Penhallow Hotel fire. SkyNews
10/03/2009Penhallow Hotel fire site - Newquay Town Councillors seek enforcement action to get the area cleaned up.SouthwestBusiness
20/05/2009Speculation that a petrol-soaked rag could have been used to start the Penhallow Hotel fire. ThisIsStaffordshire
05/06/2009Penhallow Hotel had four warnings it was trading illegally by failing to update its fire safety system. ThisIsCornwall
10/06/2009Night porter of Penhallow Hotel, Chris Gunn, arrested as one of only two people in the area the fire was presumed to have happened.WesternMorningNews
12/06/2009Inquest finds nobody to blame for the Penhallow Hotel fire that killed 3 holidaymakers.WesternMorningNews
12/11/2009An article by John Hughes, brother of Peter Hughes and son of Monica Hughes, two of the victims of the Penhallow Hotel fireFireComplianceSafety
27/01/2010Crown Court date set for Director/Manager of Penhallow Hotel, John McMillan, to appear at Crown CourtThisIsCornwall
27/01/2010Three remanded in custody to stand trial at Crown Court, accused of safety breaches. John McMillan, Nicola Burfitt, Martin Trucker.BBC News
29/09/2010Owners of the Penhallow Hotel face prosecution for an alleged breach of fire precautions.ThisIsTheWestcountry
29/09/2010Five to be prosecuted over the Penhallow Hotel fire. The owners and three other individuals will appear in Bodmin Magistrates Court on 21 October 2010 for breaches of fire safety under the Regulatory Reform Order (Fire Safety) 2005.CatererSearch
15/12/2010A director and senior manager from the company owning Penhallow Hotel appear in court. Nicola Burfitt and John McMillan face fire safety charges.BBC News
A timeline of events in the investigation of the Penhallow Hotel Fire in August 2007

Penhallow Hotel Site to be Redeveloped

In June 2014 Planning Permission was granted to a London property development company, the Verto Group, to redevelop the Penhallow Hotel site. By 2015 the seven new 4-bedroom townhouses should be on the market for sale. It’s planned to call the development Island Reach. The development will be part of Verto Group’s Net Zero designs.

Main Players

Throughout the tragedy, investigation and court cases, a lot of names have been mentioned, here’s an overview of the main players in the Penhallow Hotel fire:

  • Peter Hughes, 43, holidaymaker, victim, died falling from a 2nd floor window.
  • Monica Hughes, 86, holidaymaker, victim, mother of Peter Hughes, remains found in rubble
  • Joan Harper, 80, holidaymaker, victim, remains found in rubble.
  • Marjorie Brys, 80, holidaymaker. Twin sister of Joan Harper, they were on holiday together, but Marjorie escaped the fire. They had holidayed together at the Penhallow for four years and usually had adjoining rooms 48/49, but the hotel had changed the rooms, so Marjorie was put into 58 on the other side of the hotel.
  • Michael Billington, barman at the Penhallow Hotel, working the night of the fire.
  • Sarah Jane Duffy, Assistant Manager of the Penhallow Hotel and partner of Mr Woolam
  • Mr Andy Woolam, Manager of Penhallow Hotel. He was in his flat the night of the fire, Michael Billington informed him the hotel was on fire.
  • Chris Gunn, night porter at the Penhallow Hotel.
  • John McMillan, company Director of Holdsworth Hotels who owned Penhallow Hotel.