Belfast Telegraph

The plumber facing raft of charges over gas poisoning deaths of two teen students

By Chris Kilpatrick

A gas fitter accused of causing the deaths of two teenagers by carbon monoxide poisoning is alleged to have carried out defective work in homes across the north coast in the months leading up to the tragedy.

Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson, both from Newtownabbey, died after the deadly gas leak occurred while they were staying in a holiday apartment in Castlerock, Co Londonderry, in August 2010. Their friend Matthew Gaw, who was also in the seaside apartment at the time, survived.

Gas fitter George Brown faces manslaughter charges following the deaths of the two 18-year-olds who had gone to the apartment ahead of receiving exam results.

The 51-year-old also faces 15 counts of failure to protect non-employees, being unqualified to carry out work, failing to ensure competency, installing a gas appliance to an unacceptable standard and failing to test a connection.

The alleged breaches of gas safety regulations relate to work he carried out on a number of properties across the north coast in 2010, as well as a restaurant.

Mr Brown was set to have the charges put to him at North Antrim Magistrates Court in Coleraine on Monday but the case was adjourned for two weeks at the request of his solicitor, Garrett Green.

The solicitor told the court he was currently engaging with engineering experts who inspected work Mr Brown had done.

He said Mr Brown — who was not in the dock as his case was heard in the courtroom on Monday — had yet to decide whether to contest the charges against him.

He said the families of the two teenagers were being kept informed of the progress of the case.

Mr Green added that Mr Brown is no longer in employment. On the one-year anniversary of the deaths of the teenagers, Neil’s mother Catherine McFerran told of how the families were just “taking each day as it comes”.

After they failed to come home from a short break the concerned parents of both students — who were prefects at Glengormley High School — went to the flat in Castlerock.

They found Aaron and Neil lying in the flat. Matthew was still conscious, but disorientated.

The teenagers' parents fought in vain to save their sons' lives.

Mrs McFerran said: “You don't understand yourself how you are surviving from one day to the next because you wake up every day to devastation.”

Last year carbon monoxide alarms became compulsory in all new homes in Northern Ireland.

Background

Teenagers Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson died after a gas leak occurred while they were staying in a holiday apartment in Castlerock, Co Derry in August 2010.

The 18-year-olds had gone to the luxury apartment to relax ahead of receiving exam results. After they failed to come home their concerned parents travelled to the property.

There they found Aaron and Neil lying in the flat having been overcome by carbon monoxide fumes. The teenagers' parents battled in vain to save their sons' lives.

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