THE MANSLAUGHTER trial over a young bank worker found dead in her hotel bedroom heard that carbon monoxide gas is lethal because it is not only odourless and colourless, but because its poisoning mimics simple illnesses like a cold and flu.
Cork Circuit Criminal Court heard that Miriam Reidy (35) died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning while attending the hen party of her cousin in Kinsale.
Plumber Richard Davis (45) denies the manslaughter of Ms Reidy in the Trident Hotel, Kinsale on January 9, 2011.
The State claimed he 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.
Davis of Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork denies all the charges against him.
As a director of Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors Ltd, the defendant also faces two charges brought under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act, 2005.
These allege he failed to properly convert a Worcester Bosch Greenstar boiler at the Trident Hotel for LPG use.
Ms Reidy was pronounced dead after being discovered lifeless in Room 113 of the Trident Hotel by her cousin.
Her sister, Patricia Reidy- Russell, was also overcome by the carbon monoxide gas in Room 113 but was saved thanks to the combined efforts of her cousin, Marie, who is a nurse, and paramedics who attended the scene.
Assistant State Pathologist Dr Margaret Bolster told the trial that Ms Reidy died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dr Bolster said laboratory tests indicated a carbon monoxide blood saturation level of 57pc.
Levels of 50pc and over can cause unconsciousness, collapse, convulsions, coma and death.
Levels between 10pc and 30pc can cause headaches, dizziness and fatigue.
Dr Bolster said that, in its early stages, carbon monoxide exposure can resemble other illnesses of a general malaise type. "It can mimic other illnesses... such as a flu or a cold," she said.
The two sisters had left the hen party at 1am on January 9 and returned to Room 113.
Both awoke at 4am feeling very ill and were treated by a GP for the suspected winter vomiting bug.
Other guests were treated for similar illness complaints that night.
Brendan Grehan SC, for the State, said evidence will be given that the boiler in question was "spewing out" carbon- monoxide.
The case, before Judge Sean O Donnabhain, will involve up to 100 witnesses and could last four weeks.