A PLUMBER accused of the manslaughter of a Limerick woman told gardai he conducted a computerised carbon monoxide safety test, but later admitted no such test took place.
The revelation came as a manslaughter trial heard Richard Davis, 46, holds no formal qualifications with the Registered Gas Installers of Ireland and had his provisional registration of the body terminated in January 2010. Mr Davis denies the manslaughter of Miriam Reidy, 35, from Ballyhahill, county Limerick, in the Trident Hotel, Kinsale on January 9 2011.
He told gardaí after the death: “I am sick to my stomach that it happened. I have to live with it for the rest of my life.”
In interviews with gardai, Mr Davis said he was shocked and sick to his stomach about the fact that a woman had died, that her sister had become seriously ill, and that a number of other guests at the hotel had become sick due to carbon monoxide poisoning.
“I am extremely sorry for the hurt I caused to everyone involved. I done my job to the best of my ability,” said the accused, who believed he carried out the necessary work.
Ms Reidy, a bank official with AIB, was in Kinsale with her older sister Patricia and a group of around 30 friends attending a cousin’s hen party, to celebrate the upcoming marriage of her cousin Marie Reidy. She died from acute carbon monoxide poisoning in the four-star hotel. Friends became concerned when they the sisters failed to check out of the hotel, and when their room was checked, Miriam was found dead, and Patricia was found unconscious. The alarm was raised when their cousin Marie, a nurse, found Ms Reidy without any pulse lying under a blanket on a bed, and Patricia curled up in the foetal position, shaking uncontrollably and moaning loudly.
Her sister was treated at Cork University Hosptial, where she spent over a week before she was discharged. A doctor was called to several people in the hotel that night, including the deceased woman and her sister. However, he diagnosed the winter vomiting bug and gave both women an injection.
The State has claimed that Mr Davis had shown gross negligence in the conversion of a new boiler from natural gas to liquid petroleum gas in the hotel on January 4. Mr Davis of Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork, denies all the charges against him at Cork Circuit Criminal Court.
Judge Sean O’Donnabhain heard that Davis informed gardai on January 10, 2011, just 24 hours after Ms Reidy’s death, that he conducted the carbon monoxide safety test on the converted boiler in the hotel. However, defence counsel Michael O’Higgins SC clarified to the trial that such a safety test did not, in fact, ever take place on January 4 or 5.
The trial heard from UK heating expert, Richard Siddens, who was brought in to examine the 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 Inspector Joe Moore said.
The trial heard that Davis held no formal qualification from the industry body, RGII.
He had provisional registration from July to December 2009 - but was removed from the register in January 2010 after failing to meet criteria.
Davis, in statements to gardai, said he had 26 to 27 years plumbing experience.
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. Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors Ltd of Unit 9, Portside, Marina Commercial Park, Centre Park Road, Cork, also faces two similar charges.
The case, before Judge Sean O’Donnabhain and a jury of nine men and three women, continues and will involve up to 100 witnesses.