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Thomas Cook representatives face charges over hotel tragedy

The air conditioning system at the Louis Corcyra Beach hotel in Corfu was partially responsible for the deaths of two children from carbon monoxide poisoning, Greek officials confirmed this week.

Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert died when carbon monoxide fumes from a faulty gas boiler at a neighbouring apartment leaked into their rooms via the hotel’s air conditioning system.

The two children, from Wakefield in West Yorkshire, had been staying at the resort with their father and his girlfriend during their half-term holiday when the tragedy occurred.

Their father and his partner survived the incident, despite spending days in a coma.

Greek officials also confirmed that two Thomas Cook employees are to face charges of causing bodily harm by negligence after an appeal was dismissed. The appeal, launched by the District Attorney of the Corfu Appeal Court last year, proposed that, since the individuals could not be held responsible for the accident, the charges against them should be dropped.

But the Appeal Court ruled last week that the two should not have relied on hotel assurances that the heating and cooling system was safe and should have conducted proper inspections themselves.

The two will be now tried alongside the hotel’s management and external maintenance contractors in Greece in November.

The Thomas Cook two could face up to five years in jail if they are found guilty.

A Thomas Cook spokesman said: “The company’s thoughts will always be with the family and friends of Christianne and Robert Shepherd.

“Even though the District Attorney’s Appeal has not been upheld, we continue to support and stand by the two people concerned and believe they will be vindicated when the case is heard. The company has, and will continue to co-operate fully with the Greek authorities.”

Investigators are now carrying out additional tests on air conditioning and water heater systems at the hotel.