Court hears how family holiday turned to ‘tragedy’

Christi and Bobby had complained of feeling ill at the family's holiday bungalow. Picture: PA

Christi and Bobby had complained of feeling ill at the family's holiday bungalow. Picture: PA

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A HALF-TERM holiday in Corfu became “the most appalling tragedy” when two young children died from carbon monoxide poisoning, a coroner has said.

The inquests into the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged six and seven respectively, began in Wakefield yesterday, more than eight years after they died on the Greek island.

Outlining the case to a jury, coroner David Hinchliff said: “What should have been a very happy and relaxed half-term break became the most appalling tragedy.”

Mr Hinchliff described how the children, from Horbury, West Yorkshire, had been feeling unwell in their holiday bungalow the day before they were found dead by a chambermaid in October 2006.

The children’s father Neil and his partner, now wife, Ruth were both found in a coma in the bungalow.

Mr and Mrs Shepherd were both at Wakefield Coroner’s Court to see the jury of seven men and four women sworn in.

The children’s mother, Sharon Wood, was also in court for the proceedings.

Mr Hinchliff said: “The family of these children have waited a long, long time for this day to come.”

Mr Hinchliff told the jury that the family arrived at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on 23 October and started to feel unwell on 25 October, with Bobby tripping on the floor and appearing to be dizzy.

By bedtime, Bobby had recovered a little but his sister was still not feeling well.

The jury heard that after she went to bed, Christi started to cry and be sick.

Mr Hinchliff said the adults went into the children’s room but cannot remember what happened after that.

He said a chambermaid let herself in the next day, at about 11am, and found Christi dead on the floor and Bobby dead in the bed. The two adults were close by, both in comatose states.

The first witness in the inquest, which is expected to last at least two weeks, was heating engineering expert Thomas Magner, who explained how carbon monoxide from the boiler which supplied hot water to the bungalow had got into the building.

He said that by British standards, this work had been “bodged and botched”.

The jury was also shown extracts from a BBC Panorama documentary which showed pictures of the rusting boiler and the hotel complex.

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