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Service ducts in gas death hotel 'were not fire-sealed'

SERVICE ducts in a hotel where a young woman died from carbon monoxide poisoning were not fire-sealed.

The revelation came as David Good, whose family owns the Trident Hotel in Kinsale, Co Cork, said the ducts were not sealed correctly, but that the owners only became aware of the issue after the tragic death of Miriam Reidy (35).

Mr Good's comments came on the sixth day of the Cork Circuit Criminal Court manslaughter trial of plumber Richard Davis (46).

Mr Davis denies the manslaughter of Miriam Reidy (35) in the Trident Hotel on January 9, 2011.

negligence

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.

Mr Davis, of Killanully, Co Cork, denies all the charges against him.

The trial has heard that Ms Reidy died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning in Room 113 as she attended her cousin's hen party.

Davis, in a statement to gardai after the tragedy, said: "I am sick to my stomach that it happened. I have to live with it for the rest of my life."

Mr Good yesterday said he first became aware that the ducts were not fire-sealed in accordance with regulations when he hired a forensic engineer to examine the ducts and boiler room after the tragedy.

Mr Davis had no involvement with the ducts in the hotel which was built in 1965 and refurbished in 2004.

"That (fire seal) was not done. I don't believe it was done correctly," said Mr Good.

The purpose of fire-proofing a duct is to prevent flames, smoke or gases from travelling along such service passages into other hotel rooms.

Mr Good told the trial he did not subsequently raise the matter with the builder involved.

"I saw no purpose in that - it wasn't going to bring back Miriam Reidy," he said.

"The main issue was the carbon monoxide source rather than the pathway."

Defence counsel Michael O'Higgins SC said that it was arguably the service ducts that had proven the passage for the toxic gases to reach the bedrooms.

The trial heard UK heating expert, Richard Siddens, was brought in to examine the Trident boiler after Ms Reidy's death.

He found that the boiler was still at its original factory settings.

"It has not been correctly converted to use Liquid Petroleum Gas (from natural gas)," Det Insp Joe Moore said.

qualification

The trial heard that Davis held no formal qualification from the industry body, Registered Gas Installers of Ireland (RGII).

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).

Brendan Grehan SC, for the State, said evidence will be given that the boiler in question was "spewing out" carbon-monoxide from a boiler room below Room 113.

The case, before Judge Sean O'Donnabhain and a jury of nine men and three women, will involve up to 100 witnesses and could last four weeks.

hnews@herald.ie


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