Charges due over Corfu gas deaths

The bodies of two British children killed by carbon monoxide poisoning in their Corfu hotel room on Thursday were flown home yesterday as police on the island interviewed hotel employees and maintenance staff in an attempt to find out who was responsible for the tragedy. A doctor who performed an autopsy on Christianne and Robert Shepherd, aged 7 and 6, said the lethal fumes they inhaled had probably leaked into their room from a faulty gas-powered boiler. The children’s father Neil Shepherd, who had been in the same bungalow with his partner Ruth Beatson, was yesterday still in intensive care. Beatson was in a stable condition. Police said both adults had been informed of the deaths yesterday. The children’s mother, Sharon Wood, yesterday accompanied the bodies on a flight back to Manchester. A prosecutor is expected to file manslaughter charges later this week, court officials said, without specifying who would be charged. Meanwhile the management of the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, in Corfu’s Gouvia Bay, said new water boilers had been installed two years ago and were checked annually. But experts said the boiler in question had probably been faulty and the hotel room may not have been adequately ventilated. «The boiler had probably been inadequately installed or badly maintained,» the president of the national cooperative for boiler maintenance experts, Evangelos Mallios, told Kathimerini. Professor of physics at Athens University Manthos Santamouris, said proper ventilation, as is customary practice, could have saved the children. «If a system of ventilation, changing the air in the room at least twice an hour, had been operating there would have been no problem,» he said. The experts called for immediate measures to upgrade hotel infrastructure. Tourism Minister Fanni Palli-Petralia pledged to revoke the hotel’s license if its management proves to be responsible for the deaths but stressed that Greek tourism «should not be stigmatized» by the incident, echoing the country’s worried hoteliers. Corfu is a top holiday destination for Britons – about 438,000 visited the island last year.