Holiday fume death trial delayed

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The Independent Online

The trial of two tour firm employees over the deaths of a brother and sister who died from carbon monoxide poisoning on holiday in Greece was further delayed today until next year.

Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, died after being overcome by fumes while on a family holiday in Corfu in October 2006.

Their father, Neil Shepherd, and his partner, Ruth Beatson, both fell into a coma and were admitted to hospital, but survived the poisoning.

Richard Carson, 27, and Nicola Gibson, 25, who were both holiday representatives for Thomas Cook when the incident occurred, face charges in a Greek court of manslaughter and negligence.

Their trial was due to start today but was adjourned until next February or March following legal applications by the defendants.

They are accused of causing manslaughter by negligence in relation to the children, and of causing bodily injury by negligence to Mr Shepherd and Ms Beatson.

Ten Greeks, including staff from the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel in Gouvia, where the family were staying, were also due to be tried.

It is believed the tragedy was caused after carbon monoxide fumes leaked from a next-door room into the bungalow apartment the family had booked for a half-term break.

Mr Shepherd and Ms Beatson are thought to have flown out to Corfu for the trial, as have Robert and Christianne's mother Sharon Wood, who was in the UK at the time of the tragedy, and her husband Paul.

The family have previously said they believe Thomas Cook is "responsible for the events which led to the deaths" of the two children.

But a Thomas Cook spokeswoman said today: "We are confident that our colleagues acted properly and should not be blamed in any way.

"We continue to give them our full support and believe they will be vindicated by the court."

She added that Mr Carson is still employed by Thomas Cook as an overseas representative, while Ms Gibson no longer works for the company and has returned to the UK.