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Manslaughter denied by plumber over gas death at Cork hotel

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Plumber Richard Davis from Serenity, Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork pictured at Cork Circuit Court.

Plumber Richard Davis from Serenity, Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork pictured at Cork Circuit Court.

Miriam Reidy,who died from carbon monoxide poisoning at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale in January 2011

Miriam Reidy,who died from carbon monoxide poisoning at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale in January 2011

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Plumber Richard Davis from Serenity, Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork pictured at Cork Circuit Court.

A YOUNG bank worker died from carbon monoxide poisoning in a Cork hotel where a boiler was "spewing out" the colourless, tasteless but lethal gas, a court has heard.

Plumber Richard Davis denied the manslaughter of Miriam Reidy (35) after the State claimed he had shown gross negligence in the conversion of a new boiler from natural gas to liquid petroleum gas (LPG) at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale, Co Cork.

Davis (45) has gone on trial before Cork Circuit Criminal Court for the manslaughter of Ms Reidy in her hotel bedroom on January 9, 2011.

The Tralee-based bank worker, originally from Ballyhahill, Co Limerick, was attending a hen party for her cousin, Marie.

Davis, of Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork, denies all charges.

As a director of Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors Ltd, he also faces two further charges brought under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005).

These allege that, around January 4 2011, he failed to properly convert a Worcester Bosch Greenstar boiler at the Trident Hotel for LPG use.

Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors Ltd of Unit 9, Portside, Marina Commercial Park, Centre Park Road, Cork, also faces two similar charges.

In opening the case, Brendan Grehan, for the State, said evidence will be given that the boiler in question was "spewing out" carbon-monoxide.

The State claims Davis did not correctly convert the boiler, did not follow the manufacturer's precise instructions and failed to conduct a safety test on completion.

Mr Grehan said that because January 9 was both cold and windless, carbon-monoxide built up from the boiler and entered overhead bedrooms via service ducts.

He said the State contends that while the defendant did not set out to deliberately hurt anyone, he had been grossly negligent.

Miriam Reidy was staying with her sister, Patricia (37), in Room 113 in the Trident.

Both had joined 30 friends the previous evening for a hen party meal in another hotel.

They had consumed just two glasses of wine and returned to their Trident bedroom at 1am.

At 4am, both awoke feeling ill.

Patricia sent a text to her cousin, Marie, asking if anyone else felt unwell.

"Are you sick - we are bad and shaking," she said in a text at 4.25am.

A GP with SouthDoc, Dr Con Vizagy, attended the hotel and administered Motilium for a suspected case of the winter vomiting bug.

The jury was told that other guests had been treated for similar symptoms that night.

Marie later became concerned at the absence of the sisters and tried to gain access to Room 113.

Mr Grehan said that, on entering, she found one cousin dead and the other moaning on a bed.

"Miriam Reidy was lying on a bed nearest the door...and was lifeless," he said.

"Her only thought (Marie) was that she (Patricia) recognised (her) and she saw the fear in her eyes."

Miriam died but Patricia was saved by paramedics.

"The prosecution are saying...none of these other issues would have mattered if Richard Davis and his company had correctly converted the boiler in question," Mr Grehan said.

"The boiler was left spewing out lethal levels of carbon monoxide. This case is effectively about carbon monoxide poisoning."

Mr Grehan said that, in the subsequent safety investigation, the levels of carbon-monoxide from the boiler in question were off the scale of a special test machine.

British heating expert Richard Siddens will offer evidence that the only possible source of the carbon-monoxide was the boiler.

The case, before Judge Sean O'Donnabhain, will involve up to 100 witnesses and could last four weeks.

Irish Independent