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Thomas Cook 'breached duty of care' in CO poisoning case

Holiday firm Thomas Cook “breached its duty of care” in the case of two children who died from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning while on holiday in Corfu, an inquest jury has concluded.

The BBC has reported that jurors returned a verdict of unlawful killing of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, who were aged six and seven when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty hot water boiler at their hotel in October 2006.

Their mother said she would always blame the company for their deaths.

Thomas Cook pointed out an investigation by the Greek authorities had cleared its employees of any wrongdoing.

The children, from Horbury near Wakefield, were on holiday at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel with their father, Neil, and his now wife, Ruth, when they died.

They were found by a chambermaid in a hotel bungalow.

Their father and stepmother had also become ill and were in a coma when they were found, but recovered later in hospital.

The inquest heard the faulty hot water boiler had been housed in an outbuilding attached to the side of the bungalow where the family were staying.

Thomas Cook said in a statement it had been “shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss” of the children, but there had been a thorough investigation by the Greek authorities that had cleared its employees of any wrongdoing.

“Thomas Cook recognises that the pain caused by this terrible accident will never go away and must be still very hard for friends and family to bear,” the firm said in a statement.

“The systems which were in place in 2006, which were intended to prevent such a tragedy, have since been thoroughly revised and address the criticisms made by the jury.

“The health and safety of our customers is of paramount importance and we continuously review and strive to improve all our procedures.”

West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchcliff said he would make a series of recommendations to the holiday industry at a later date.

A criminal trial was held in Greece in 2010 and three people, including the manager of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel and two members of staff, were found guilty of manslaughter by negligence and sentenced to seven years.

Eight other people were cleared, including two Thomas Cook travel reps.

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