Corfu trial: Parents ‘beyond disappointment’ as Thomas Cook reps cleared

The parents whose son and daughter died from carbon monoxide poisoning said they were “beyond disappointment” last night after a Greek court cleared two Thomas Cook reps of any wrongdoing.

Neil Shepherd and Sharon Wood said their faith in the company had been “misplaced and abused”.

Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert, from Wakefield, West Yorkshire, died after a faulty boiler leaked gas into their bungalow in Corfu in October 2006.

Thomas Cook employees Richard Carson, 28, and Nicola Gibson, 26, were cleared of manslaughter by negligence charges at a Greek court.

The judge pinned the blame on hotel manager Georgios Chrysikopoulos, head of the hotel technical department Petros Stoyiannos and hotel electrician Christos Louvros, who were each sentenced to seven years in jail.

Standing on the steps of the courthouse, Mr Shepherd said: “If just one person had done their job correctly Christi and Bobby would be here today. Nobody deliberately set out to cause Christi and Bobby’s death but everyone who worked on or knew about the disgusting state of the boiler in our eyes were grossly negligent.

“We paid money to Thomas Cook to send us to a hotel they considered safe. Our faith in this company was misplaced and abused.”

He said it was not right that Mr Carson was given responsibility for carrying out health and safety inspections, when he had no relevant qualifications.

“We believe that the health and safety management system adopted by Thomas Cook failed. We still believe that, had the process been followed to the letter, Christi and Bobby would still be alive now.”

He urged the hotel owners to carry out their promise of demolishing the bungalow and replacing it with a “suitable memorial to our beloved children”.

Mrs Wood said: “Our feelings go beyond disappointment for we consider each of the defendants a link in a chain of events which led to our children losing their lives – each of these links vital, each capable of preventing the tragedy.

“I have and always will include Thomas Cook in this link. They are the biggest travel company in the world.”

Boiler maintenance engineers Theo Koromios and Nikolaos Varthis, architect Alexandros Gavrielidis, safety technician Damianis Goudelis and Michael Florentiadis, who renovated the roof of the outhouse in 2001, were all cleared of any wrongdoing.

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