SECURITY camera footage of the moment a fire which would claim the lives of two men was discovered has been played to an inquiry. 

Simon Midgley (32) and his partner Richard Dyson (38), from London, died following the blaze at the five-star Cameron House Hotel near Balloch on the banks of Loch Lomond in December 2017.

A Fatal Accident Inquiry (FAI) into the deaths is being held at Paisley Sheriff Court. 

On Tuesday, the inquiry saw security camera footage which showed night porter Christopher O’Malley opening the concierge cupboard on the morning of December 18 to discover flames and smoke coming out of the small room just next to the reception area.

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Darren Robinson, the hotel’s night manager at the time, was giving evidence to the court and was shown the footage of O’Malley filling a plastic bag with ashes and putting it into the cupboard, which also stored kindling for the nearby fire. 

One part of the footage shows O’Malley putting the ashes in as he was talking to another hotel employee. 

Robinson said: “It’s not something I would have done,” and added that it was a “fire risk”. 

“There could be hot embers in the ash,” he said, and told the inquiry that there were “flammable materials” stored in the cupboard. 

He said he did not know they had been put there until he saw the footage. 

At about 6.30am on December 18, Robinson was alerted to the pre-alarm and he and O’Malley went to try find the cause. 

Moments later, the FAI was shown, O’Malley opened the door to the cupboard he had previously placed the ashes in where he and a member of the public found the source of the fire. 

Smoke started to fill the room and Robinson put down his fire marshal pack and list of guests and picked up a fire extinguisher. 

The National: Night hotel manager Darren Robinson arrives at the inquiryNight hotel manager Darren Robinson arrives at the inquiry

However, Robinson told the court he felt there “was no point” in doing so at that stage. 

“It was too big and it was more important to get people out,” he told Graeme Jessop, acting for the Crown.

A member of the public could then be seen on the video trying to fight the fire with an extinguisher, but to no avail. 

“I was trying to phone the emergency services at that point,” Robinson said. 

Jessop asked him if there was an issue contacting emergency services to which Robinson responded: “There was no problem. It started ringing, I think, and within the next few seconds things escalated quite quickly – lights went off, (the) place starts to fill up with smoke – and I didn’t think it was safe to be in there anymore.”

The 999-call made at 6.41am on the morning of the fire was played to the inquiry. 

Mark Stewart QC, acting for O’Malley, told the court his client was a “conscientious” and “diligent” employee. 

“When the alarm went off you asked Mr O’Malley to go an investigate. That’s what we saw happening on the video as he rushed out in the reception area slightly ahead of you,” he said. 

When smoke was detected, staff had three minutes to work out the cause, and the inquiry was told O’Malley’s actions were “instrumental” in making the decision for Robinson to trigger the full alarm. 

He said there had been nothing to test the temperature of the ash to make sure it was cool enough, and that the metal bucket which was used was bought from B&Q just before the blaze.

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The inquiry also heard O’Malley had told Robinson that the ash bins were full and that the night manager had emailed other staff at the hotel requesting the bins be emptied. 

Hotel operator Cameron House Resort (Loch Lomond) Ltd was previously fined £500,000 whilst night porter O’Malley was given a community payback order. 

Dumbarton Sheriff Court heard in January 2022 that the fire started after O’Malley emptied ash and embers from a fuel fire into a polythene bag, and then put it in a cupboard of kindling and newspapers. 

The hotel firm admitted to failing to take the necessary fire safety measures to ensure the safety of its guests and employees between January 14 2016 and December 18 2017.

The inquiry remains ongoing.