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Saturday 25 November 2017

Gas fitter to assist death probe

The gas fitter at the centre of an investigation into the fatal poisoning of two teenage friends in a holiday apartment today pledged to co-operate with authorities in the North.

George Brown's shop in Coleraine, Co Derry was searched by police and officials from the Health and Safety Executive (HSENI) investigating the suspected carbon monoxide leak that killed 18-year-old school pals Aaron Davidson and Neil McFerran in the seaside flat in nearby Castlerock.

The HSENI has advised anyone who has a gas appliance fitted by Mr Brown's business - the Calor Shop - to switch it off.

A solicitor for Mr Brown released a statement this morning.

"Mr Brown would like to express his most sincere condolences to the Davidson and McFerran families following their tragic loss.

"Mr Brown fully supports the investigation being carried out by the authorities.

"He will help and co-operate to the fullest possible extent, and in any way possible, in order to assist the investigation into this tragedy.

"He has been in constant contact with the authorities since the tragic events have occurred.

"He thanks all those friends and customers who have contacted him offering messages of support, but would ask that all thoughts and prayers be with the Davidson and McFerran families at this time."

The Calor Shop run by Mr Brown is an entirely separate legal entity to Calor Gas (NI) Limited.

The premises was searched by the authorities last night.

Aaron and Neil, from Newtownabbey outside Belfast, had been spending time at the apartment awaiting their exam results when they were overcome by poisonous fumes last week.

A third teenager, Matthew McGaw, also 18, survived the leak.

The HSENI found that a liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) appliance inside a flat at Tunnel Brae Court had not been working properly.

The statement from Mr Brown`s solicitor came hours after it emerged that the HSENI was investigating reports of another suspected carbon monoxide leak in the area.

It is understood two people in a property in the Portmore Road area of Portstewart contacted doctors after feeling unwell.

Neither were believed to be in serious ill health.

A HSENI spokeswoman confirmed they were examining the Portstewart property as part of the Castlerock investigation.

"HSENI is aware of a reported incident in Portstewart and it forms part of its ongoing investigation," she said.

A gas helpline set up in the wake of the Castlerock tragedy has been inundated with calls from concerned householders.

The HSENI said it was continuing to carry out checks at other addresses in Castlerock and Coleraine.

The North's Enterprise Minister, Arlene Foster, and Finance Minister, Sammy Wilson, have called for compulsory carbon monoxide alarms.

Ms Foster said: "I share people's safety concerns about carbon monoxide and I will meet with my ministerial colleague, Finance Minister Sammy Wilson, to determine the legislation required to make carbon monoxide detectors compulsory in new builds.

"This is similar to the provisions that are in place for smoke detectors in new dwellings."

Press Association

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