Belfast Telegraph

Gas fitter denies causing apartment death of teens

BY MICHAEL DONNELLY

A gas fitter who allegedly carried out defective work on appliances across Northern Ireland denied causing the deaths of two teenagers who succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning.

The 18-year-old friends from Newtownabbey, Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson, were overcome by the gas at a Castlerock apartment on August 3, 2010.

They were found by their parents, who raced to the seaside village when they were unable to contact the teenagers, who had been enjoying a break ahead of receiving their exam results.

George Brown, from Ballygawley Road, Aghadowey, was formally arraigned before Coleraine Crown Court, where he pleaded not guilty to the manslaughter of both teenagers. He also denied a further 19 charges involving failures in health and safety.

They include failure to protect non-employees, such as the two former prefects from Glengormley High School, failing to ensure those fitting gas appliances were qualified, incorrectly fitting appliances and failing to test those that were correctly connected.

Although no details were given to the court, sitting in Belfast's Laganside Courthouse, it is alleged the work was carried out across the north coast in the months before the tragedy.

This work not only involved the holiday home, but 14 other premises, including homes, a restaurant and a caravan park.

Defence QC Kieran Mallon, appearing for the 52-year-old former owner of The Calor Shop in Coleraine, told the court he had already agreed 120 witnesses, who would not now be needed to personally give evidence in court.

The lawyer added there were "a very many other witnesses also capable of agreement", before the start of the trial in February.

Brown was released on continuing bail until the start of his trial, estimated to last between three to four weeks.

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