Manslaughter accused ‘failed to properly convert gas boiler’

Miriam Reidy died after suffering carbon monoxide poisoning at Kinsale’s Trident Hotel

A heating and plumbing contractor failed to properly convert a gas boiler in a Co Cork hotel resulting in the death of a 35-year-old female guest from carbon monoxide poisoning, the State alleged at the opening of the man’s trial today.

Richard Davis (45), of Serenity, Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork, denied the manslaughter of Miriam Reidy (35) at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale on January 9th, 2011 when he was arraigned at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today.

Mr Davis, as a director of Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors, also denies two charges relating to breaches of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. The company has denied the same two charges relating to the conversion of a hotel boiler on January 4th 2011.

Prosecution counsel Brendan Grehan SC told the jury of nine men and three women that the State is not alleging Mr Davis deliberately set out to kill or injure Ms Reidy but that he was guilty of her manslaughter through criminal negligence.


The State would call evidence which it believes would show that Mr Davis, in his capacity as a plumbing and heating contractor, failed to meet the required standard when carrying out conversion work on boilers at the Trident Hotel in Kinsale in early January 2011, he said.

Mr Grehan told the trial Ms Reidy, a native of Ballyhahill, Co Limerick, was one of a group of some 30 people attending a hen party for her cousin, Marie Reidy in Kinsale when the incident happened.

Most of the group were staying in the White House but Ms Reidy and her sister, Patricia Reidy Russell were staying along with two others in the Trident and they retired at about 1am on January 9th, he said.

Mr Grehan said the jury would hear from Ms Reidy Russell that they felt cold when they returned to their room and went to bed but at some stage she was woken by a thud and found her sister had fallen out of bed.

Neither woman had consumed very much alcohol but both felt very weak and Ms Reidy Russell sent a text message to her cousin Marie Reidy, saying: “Are you sick - we are bad and shaking” before she called a doctor.

The trial would hear that a GP from Southdoc came to see the two women at about 5am and noticed vomit in the room. On hearing both women felt nauseous, the doctor thought they might have the winter vomiting bug and administered Motilium by injection.

The trial would also hear how Marie Reidy, a nurse, called to the Trident around 1.50pm to see how her cousins were only to get no answer from their room and when staff opened the room she found Miriam Reidy lying lifeless on the bed and her sister shaking uncontrollably.

Marie Reidy raised the alarm and tried to rescuscitate her cousin without success while among the emergency services who attended was a doctor who suspected that something more sinister than food poisoning was involved and the hotel was evacuated.

Miriam Reidy was pronounced dead at the scene and removed to CUH where a post-mortem revealed that she had died from carbon monoxide poisoning while Patricia Reidy Russell was also taken to CUH where ultimately she made a full recovery.

Mr Grehan said the State would produce evidence from an expert witness Richard Siddons suggesting that the only possible source of carbon monoxide was from a boiler on the ground floor of the hotel beneath the first floor room where the Reidy sisters has been staying.

Mr Siddons would give evidence that Mr Davis- who had installed a new boiler in the boiler room - had failed to properly convert it from its natural gas setting to a setting for LPG resulting in significant emissions of carbon monoxide.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times