Plumber found not guilty of Cork hotel manslaughter

Richard Davis acquitted of role in woman’s death from carbon monoxide poisoning

 

A plumber has been acquitted of the manslaughter of a woman who died of carbon monoxide poisoning at a Cork Hotel following her cousin’s hen party.

Richard Davis (46) a heating and plumbing contractor of Serenity, Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork, was charged with manslaughter over the death of Miriam Reidy (35) from Ballyhahill, Co Limerick, who was found dead in the Trident Hotel, Kinsale, on January 9th, 2011.

A Circuit Criminal Court jury found Mr Davis not guilty of manslaughter after deliberating for just over five hours.

Mr Davis, a director of Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors Ltd, was also found not guilty of two charges under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2005).

His company denied the same two charges relating to the conversion of a hotel boiler on January 4th, 2011. Mr Davis was found not guilty on all five counts.

The Reidy family said they were extremely disappointed with the outcome of the case.

Speaking on behalf of the Reidy family, Siobhan Barret, said her sister’s death had left a “huge void” in the family.

“It’s been a very long and difficult journey for us, the Reidy family since January 9th, 2011. We’re extremely disappointed with the outcome today.

“Miriam’s sudden and untimely death has left a huge void in our family that can never be filled and we live with this heartache every day,” she said.

“We’re extremely saddened that Miriam didn’t get the opportunity to live her life and her dreams.

“Miriam was beautiful daughter, she was a wonderful sister and a fun loving auntie.

“She was a very gentle and kind person and we are blessed that we have some beautiful memories that we will always cherish,” she said.

Ms Barrett thanked gardaí and the Health and Safety Authority for their thorough investigations of the case.

Through his solicitor, Mr Davis declined to comment “out of respect for the late Miriam Reidy and her family”.

The three-week trial heard how Ms Reidy was pronounced dead after she was found unconscious in a first-floor room of the Trident Hotel.

Her sister Patricia, who was also staying in the room, was saved by paramedics.

A cousin of the pair, Marie Reidy, who stayed in a different hotel following the hen night, told the court how she tried to contact Miriam and Patricia the morning after the party, but was unable to get them on the phone.

She walked over to the hotel and in the hotel room she described scenes of chaos.

Ms Reidy recalled that Miriam looked dazed, whilst Patricia was in a foetal position and she was shaking.

“I felt Miriam’s face and it was cold. I checked pulse and couldn’t get any. I turned Patricia on her side so I could perform CPR on her sister. Because I am a nurse I was looking around the room to see what caused it.

“The room was dark and cold. My main focus was trying to revive Miriam. Patricia was shaking uncontrollably. There was an awful sour taste in her (Miriam’s) mouth as I did CPR.”

The State claimed that Mr Davis did not correctly convert the boiler, did not follow the guidelines issued for the process and failed to carry out a safety test after the conversion of the boiler from natural gas to liquid petroleum gas.

Giving evidence during the trial, expert witness Richard Siddons said he used a device capable of measuring the presence of carbon monoxide up to the maximum of 9,999 units. When this device was used on a particular gas boiler in the hotel it immediately went to the limit of 9,999 and the boiler had to be shut down.

Ms Reidy, who was from Limerick but was living in Tralee, Co Kerry, where she worked in an AIB branch, was part of a group of 25 friends attending a weekend hen party for Marie Reidy when the tragedy occurred.

Following the conclusion of the case, Patricia Reidy Russell said she re-lived the night of her sister’s death “over and over, wondering if there was anything else I could have done to save her life”.

“As an older sibling I always looked out for her. It breaks my heart to know that I did everything I possibly could but it just wasn’t enough,” she said.

She said her sister Miriam had been looking forward to moving into her new home with her boyfriend (in May 2011), getting married, building a life together and having children of her own one day.

“Miriam loved life, she loved fashion, loved her family and her nephews Donnchadh and Thomas. Family and friends meant everything to her,” Ms Reidy Russell said. She said the shock of hearing the news of Miriam’s death had left its mark on the family.

“They (Miriam’s mother and father and sister Siobhan) will never forget that day and the week that followed. The fear that grabs hold when you receive that awful news about your loved one. It has changed all our lives completely,” she said.

“Her sudden and untimely death has left all our lives with a great sadness and emptiness. As individuals we have been hit hard by Miriam’s passing.

“Not a day goes by that we don’t think of her . . . Our family chain is missing a link,” she said.