Plumber is a scapegoat, gas leak trial told

Richard Davis

The prosecution in the case against a plumber, on trial for manslaughter arising out of a gas leak in a Co Cork hotel, said if the accused had not been criminally negligent in installing a boiler, nobody would have died.

But the defence complained the plumber had been made a scapegoat.

Richard Davis, 46, from Serenity, Killanully, Ballygarvan, Co Cork, is on trial for manslaughter of Miriam Reidy and two breaches of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005.

His company, Davis Heating and Plumbing Contractors of Marina Commercial Park in Cork, is charged with two similar breaches of the safety act relating to the conversion of a gas boiler at the Trident Hotel, Kinsale, Co Cork, on January 4, 2011.

All charges are denied.

Prosecution senior counsel Brendan Grehan gave his closing speech yesterday.

“The prosecution is inviting you to concentrate on the cause of the carbon monoxide release and not the route it took to the bedroom. The prosecution say to you that none of these factors would have mattered at all if Richard Davis and his company had correctly fitted and converted boiler number 5,” he said.

“It is not that Mr Davis set out intentionally to do harm to Ms Reidy or anyone else. It is a failure by him in his work that resulted in the death of Miriam Reidy. It is a form of manslaughter you would not come across in your everyday life, it is gross negligence.

“Before you think this is the little man being prosecuted while others are being left alone this is a large enterprise employing nine plumbers, this is not as it were a one-man band or small operator where you might be tempted to feel incredible sympathy for the man caught in this predicament.”

Defence senior counsel, Michael O’Higgins, said that if more people were in the dock there would be an element of fairness.

“They would all be before you and you would be apportioning blame. You have something of a scapegoat.

“There is no architect, no builder, no hotelier, no mechanical or electrical engineer, there is just him. There is the logical explanation that he released the gas and if he converted the appliance properly we would not have a problem, we would not be here.

“There is not a basis for disregarding the other factors. If the hotel had taken the advice to put up a chimney stack system we would not be here either — carbon monoxide would be going straight up to the atmosphere. If the system, as designed, had operated with a fan to blow gases out to the car park we would not be here either.

“If a lot of other people had been doing what they should have been doing nobody would have gotten sick, nobody would have died.”


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