Dad relives holiday heartbreak in court
Published 05/02/2010 | 05:00
A father broke down in tears yesterday as he relived the moment three years ago when he woke from a coma to be told that his two children had died from carbon monoxide poisoning in their Corfu holiday apartment.
Neil Shepherd (41) said the last memory he had before losing consciousness was of trying to comfort his daughter Christianne (7), who woke in the night to be sick. He said that, as he held her on his lap, he felt dizzy and then threw up before passing out. When he regained consciousness four days later, he and his partner, Ruth Beatson (30) were in hospital.
"All I can remember is that my brother informed me I had lost my children. We were absolutely traumatised," he said.
Mr Shepherd's evidence was heard in a packed Corfu courtroom on the first day of the trial of two British holiday representatives from Thomas Cook, the firm that arranged the trip.
Mr Shepherd and Miss Beatson, who is now his wife, had taken Christianne and her brother, Bobby (6), on holiday to Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Gouvia for October half-term in 2006.
Nicola Gibson (26), the rep at their hotel, and Richard Carson (28), who was responsible for health and safety at all Corfiot hotels used by Thomas Cook, face charges of manslaughter by negligence of the children, and the bodily harm by negligence of Mr Shepherd and Miss Beatson. They deny the charges.
Speaking outside the court, the children's mother Sharon Wood (39) said: "We are eager to be here to see justice as this is the last and only thing that we can do for our children now."
Mr Shepherd, Miss Beatson and Mrs Wood are also pursuing a joint civil claim against Thomas Cook for €6m in damages. (© Daily Telegraph, London)