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Saturday 10 December 2016

Coroner to re-open inquest into hotel gas death tragedy

Miriam Reidy
Miriam Reidy

A CORONER is to re-open the inquest into the death of a young bank official who was overcome by carbon monoxide gas in a seaside hotel as she attended her cousin's hen party.

 

The move by Cork Coroner Frank O’Connell to resume the inquest into the death of Miriam Reidy (35) in 2011 is expected to lead to major

safety recommendations being issued over the dangers posed by carbon monoxide poisoning.

However, the decision to resume the inquest is exceptionally rare given that most inquests are not re-opened after the conclusion of

criminal proceedings.

Mr O’Connell has not yet set a date for the resumed inquest but it is expected to be staged in September/October.

The inquest was originally adjourned in 2012 and 2013 because of ongoing criminal proceedings.

The Reidy family has now launched a special carbon monoxide safety campaign in memory of Miriam.

The Reidy family, including Miriam's parents, John and Josie, and her sisters, Patricia and Siobhan, said they are still devastated by the

tragedy.

“This has been very long and difficult journey for us. Miriam's sudden and untimely death has left a huge void in our family that can never

be filled,” Siobhan said.

“We live with this heartache every day. We are extremely saddened that Miriam never got the opportunity to live her life to her dreams.”

Last November, Cork plumber Richard Davis (46) was acquitted of the manslaughter of the Limerick-born bank official.

A Circuit Criminal Court jury found him not guilty of the manslaughter of Miriam Reidy at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale on January 9 2011.

Davis was also found not guilty of two breaches of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.

Davis of Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork had denied all the charges against him.

The jury acquitted him on the manslaughter charge after five hours of deliberation over two days.

The State claimed in the three week trial Davis had shown gross negligence in the conversion of a new boiler from natural gas to

liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in the hotel on January 4, five days before the tragedy.

Ms Reidy was pronounced dead after being found unconscious in Room 113 in the Trident on January 9.

Her sister, Patricia, was also found unconscious but was saved thanks to the efforts of her cousin, Marie, and paramedics.

She broke down and wept during the trial that she had done everything she could to save her sister and herself.

Brendan Grehan SC, for the State, told the trial the boiler in question was “spewing out” carbon-monoxide from a facility below Room

113.

However, the defence team argued that there were multiple different factors involved in the tragedy ranging from weather conditions to the

failure to fire-seal shaft ducts in the hotel.

British heating expert, Richard Siddons, said the hotel boiler's carbon monoxide output was “off the scale” during a safety test

following the death of Ms Reidy.

Mr Siddons, brought in by Gardai as an independent analyst, said he was satisfied a new boiler which had not been properly commissioned was the source of the carbon monoxide involved.

He said that a safety test had to be abandoned when the boiler's carbon monoxide output went off the scale of a computerised Kane

analyser after just 35 seconds.

“The reading was off the scale...it was in excess of 10,000 parts per million,” he said.

Normal carbon monoxide output from a properly converted boiler should be just 100ppm.

In a statement to gardai, the plumber said: “I am sick to my stomach that it happened. I have to live with it for the rest of my life.”

While a number of Trident guests complained of feeling unwell on January 8/9, no connection between the cases was drawn at the time.

A hotel official said it was “highly unusual” but there was no obvious connection between the cases with various problems identified from

food poisoning and the winter vomiting bug to alcohol use.

Ms Reidy and her sister were treated in their hotel room by a GP a couple of hours before the tragedy for a suspected case of the winter

vomiting bug.

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