A plumber on trial for manslaughter arising out of a gas leak at the Trident hotel in Kinsale, Co Cork, had told gardaí he had tested the boiler for possible leaks with a computerised testing device. But the accused later stated he had not done so.
The accused man’s own lawyer said yesterday what Richard Davis first told gardaí, in this regard, was untrue and he clarified it.
Mr Davis, aged 44, 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, Cork, is charged with two similar breaches of the act relating to the conversion of a gas boiler at the Trident on January 4, 2011. All charges are denied.
Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin and a jury at Cork Circuit Criminal Court were told yesterday of a pre-prepared statement made by Mr Davis to Garda Michael Brosnan at Kinsale Garda Station on January 10.
Ms Reidy was found dead in her hotel bedroom at lunchtime the previous day.
In his statement, he said he worked as a plumber for 26 years and had completed the recognised courses to be a gas installer, and his company had carried out work at the Trident for 25 years.
Mr Davis said he had a Kane analyser, which he described as “effectively a handheld computer to take readings from boilers and store them on the computer and print an information ticket with the reading”.
On January 4, Mr Davis was in Kinsale for some other work and inserted a chip into a Worchester Bosch Greenstar Forty CD 1 boiler at the Trident so it could be used with liquid petroleum gas as it was configured at that time for natural gas. “I put in the chip in one of the new boilers and did an analysis with the Kane analyser. Everything was OK and I fired up the boiler,” Mr Davis said in his first statement.
During the trial yesterday, Michael O’Higgins, defending, said: “Any suggestion that the Kane analyser was used on January 4 is incorrect. It is untrue. That was later clarified to the gardaí to their satisfaction.”
Mr Davis also said in his first statement: “On Friday, January 7, 2011, I got a call from David Good [manager] at the Trident. He said that he was hearing a whistle noise from outside the boiler room.
“I asked him if he wanted me to come down and he said he would check it out [with the hotel maintenance man] and if he needed me he would get back. He did not get back to me until Sunday, January 9, at about 2.30pm. He informed me that there was an incident in the hotel and that somebody had died. He mentioned the possibility of gas poisoning as a cause of death.
“Out of concern, I made my way to the Trident straight away. It goes without saying that I am willing to provide any documentation that will be requested by gardaí if it will help in any way.”
Det Insp Joe Moore said that at 2.55pm on January 9, he decided the hotel should be evacuated.
Interviewed later by Det Insp Moore, it emerged Mr Davis was not registered with the Register of Gas Installers of Ireland, as his provisional registration was cancelled in December 2009 after he failed to do the required courses, though three other plumbers with the firm were RGII registered.
Opening the prosecution case last week, Brendan Grehan said it would be alleged a prosecution expert had a Kane analyser capable of measuring the presence of carbon monoxide up to the maximum of 9,999 units and when 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.
The case continues.
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