Friday 19 January 2018

Cookers that killed two people still in use, inquest told

Greg Harkin

MORE than 1,300 cookers that might emit deadly fumes have not been located, an inquest into the death of two elderly friends has heard.

Annie 'Nana' Gallagher (84) and Sally McDyre (79) died on September 24, 2009, at Mrs Gallagher's home in Glenties, Co Donegal, from carbon monoxide poisoning from a Beko cooker.

Mrs Gallagher was found in a living room chair still holding a cup of tea.

Mrs McDyre, who had called around to see her friend earlier that day, was found slumped on the floor at the feet of her friend.

Much of yesterday's hearing was taken up by evidence from various experts on the safety of the Turkish-made 'Flavel' cooker, owned by the Beko company.

Widow Mrs Gallagher was last seen alive at 3.40pm by her daughter-in-law Mary, who lived next door.

"I was taking washing from the line and saw Nana in the kitchen and we greeted each other with a wave," she said.

When she called in to see her just after 6.40pm, she found her mother-in-law sitting in her chair in the living room with a cup of tea still in her hand.

Two experts who carried out tests on the Beko cooker in Mrs Gallagher's kitchen found various dangerous levels of carbon monoxide emitting from the appliance, which increased significantly when the grill door was closed.

Calor Gas expert Paul Gillespie told the hearing at the Mount Errigal Hotel, Letterkenny, that fumes from the cooker were "exceptionally dangerous".

He said that even with the grill door open, the levels of carbon monoxide were "worrying".

The friends' bodies were found in the living room of the home. A door to the kitchen was open.

British investigator Stephen Hammond was commissioned to carry out tests on the cooker at the home of Mrs Gallagher by the Commission for Energy Regulation.


He carried out two tests: one with the door open, the other with the door closed. Both tests showed that the cooker failed to meet European standards.

Barrister for Beko Peter Nolan SC told the hearing that there were 5,375 of these cookers in the country at the time of the deaths.

National Standards Authority of Ireland officer Fergal Finn told the hearing that he became involved in the issue of alleged faulty cookers because of his investigations following the death of a French student, Alexis Laudry (21), in Macroom, Co Cork, on November 8, 2008.

John Shine from the National Consumer Agency said Glen Dimplex stopped selling the cookers in December 2008, a month after the Cork death. The hearing continues today.

Irish Independent

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