Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 2 October 2014

Experts probe new gas leak scare after death of teenagers

Health and safety experts probing the deaths of two teenagers in Castlerock were last night investigating reports of another gas leak on the North Coast.

Members of the inquiry team, which has been carrying checks at homes and premises throughout the area, were told about the possible scare late yesterday.

It is understood an apartment on the Portmore Road in Portstewart is believed to be the source of the suspected leak.

A spokeswoman from the Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland (HSENI) would not reveal any further information about the incident but did confirm it was investigating.

She said: “The HSENI is aware of the reported incident in Portstewart and it forms part of its ongoing investigation.”

Confirmation of the possible leak emerged as police raided the premises of the company at the centre of the probe.

On Monday, the HSENI issued an alert over work carried out by George Brown of The Calor Shop in Coleraine.

Property owners were urged to turn off any liquid gas petroleum (LPG) appliances fitted by the company and to contact an emergency helpline with any concerns.

More than 200 calls had been made to the call centre by 11am yesterday.

The HSENI also revealed a liquid petroleum gas appliance in the flat where the teenagers died was defective.

Aaron Davidson and Neil McFerran, both 18, died in an apartment in Tunnel Brae Court last Tuesday following a suspected carbon monoxide leak. Their friend Matthew Gaw survived.

Following on from the alert police officers involved in the joint inquiry raided the shop in the Hillmans Court industrial estate on the outskirts of Coleraine.

Just after 4pm officers from the PSNI removed the roller shutter, entered the premises then seized dozens of documents as part of their investigation into the deaths of Mr Davidson and Mr McFerran.

For several hours police scoured the inside of the small shop collecting as much evidence as they could.

It is also understood officers carried out a search on the home of Mr Brown last night.

It is believed the father-of-two, who has worked on dozens of apartment complexes on the North Coast over several years, may have fled to Dublin to escape the media glare. A spokeswoman from the PSNI would not confirm if a search had been carried out at his home but did say that a number of searches were being carried out in relation to the deaths of the two 18-year-olds who were killed by leaking carbon monoxide fumes last week.

Yesterday, the Belfast Telegraph visited Mr Brown’s Aghadowey home. However, no one would answer the door.

The married man has not commented publicly since the alert was raised.

Meanwhile, members living in the close-knit Ballygawley Road community were remaining tight-lipped about the tradesman.

Many denied any knowledge of Mr Brown, however, one local confirmed he did live in the area.

And while no one was willing to say anything about the Co Londonderry man, one local, who knows the Brown family well, told the Belfast Telegraph last night that Mr Brown was said to be devastated by the incident.

“He really is a good man,” he said.

“He is salt of the earth. His whole family are. In terms of the investigation I could not possibly say anything. He doesn’t really know anything at this stage.

“He is just absolutely gutted and devastated by this.”

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