Family forever blame Thomas Cook for child deaths

THE mother of two children who died of carbon monoxide poisoning while on holiday in Corfu has said she “will always hold Thomas Cook responsible for their deaths”.

Sharon Wood outside Wakefield Coroners Court yesterday with husband Paul Wood, right, and exhusband Neil Shepherd, left. Picture: PA

Sharon Wood spoke out after an inquest jury concluded that the tour operator “breached their duty of care” over the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged six and seven.

At the end of a two-week inquest hearing in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, the family’s barrister, Leslie Thomas QC, said Thomas Cook should “hang its head in shame”.

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Thomas Cook said everyone at the firm was “shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss” of the children but its ­systems had been “thoroughly revised and address the criticisms made by the jury”.

Bobby and Christi, from Horbury, near Wakefield, died at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel on the Greek holiday island when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler.

The jurors at Wakefield Coroner’s Court had already been told by West Yorkshire Coroner David Hinchliff that the only conclusion they could come to was “unlawful killing”.

The foreman also read out a series of conclusions which included how Thomas Cook had been misled by the hotel about its gas supply but also how the holiday giant’s health and safety audit of the complex was inadequate.

Mrs Wood paid tribute to her “beautiful angels” as she made an emotional statement outside court, flanked by her husband, Paul, the children’s father, Neil Shepherd and Mr Shepherd’s wife, Ruth.

Mr Shepherd and his then partner, now his wife, were with Christi and Bobby on the holiday in October 2006 when the tragedy happened. They were found unconscious next to the two dead children in a bungalow in the hotel grounds.

Mrs Wood said: “We asked for lessons to be learned from our children’s deaths; it will now fall to the coroner’s recommendations to force Thomas Cook to act more responsibly in future.

“Thomas Cook said they ­offered our family practical and financial support. This is simply not true. Whilst we appreciate there were criminal convictions in Corfu, it is clear that Thomas Cook could and should have identified that lethal boiler.

“Thomas Cook put Christi and Bobby in that bungalow and I will always hold Thomas Cook responsible for their deaths.

“I would also like to say that there can never be true justice for the deaths of my two innocent children, their whole lives ahead of them.

“But as a family we feel that our legal team, the coroner, the jury and our MP Mary Creagh have done Christi and Bobby proud, and brought the tragedy finally to a respectful conclusion. Rest in peace now, our beautiful angels.”