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GAS FITTER'S 2YRS JAIL OVER DEATHS; Judge slams 'cavalier' attitude to safety after school friends tragedy.

Byline: MIRROR REPORTER

A DODGY gas fitter who admitted causing the deaths of two school friends by carbon monoxide poisoning was jailed for two years yesterday.

Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson, both 18, were overcome by noxious fumes at a holiday apartment in Castlerock near Coleraine in 2010 Part of the flue from a new gas boiler fitted by George Brown's company became dislodged and filled the flat with the odourless toxin.

At Belfast Crown Court Mr Justice Weir sentenced Brown, 52, from Aghadowey, Co Derry, to four years for two counts of manslaughter and fined him PS19,000 for a range of health and safety offences.

The judge said his "cavalier attitude" to the dangers presented by carbon monoxide was "reprehensible".

Mr McFerran and Mr Davidson, from Newtownabbey, Co Antrim, had been on a break in the Co Derry seaside town after doing their A-levels.

Their friend, Mathew Gaw, survived the incident. He was rescued when family members broke into the property when they realised something was wrong. By that stage the other two teenagers were dead.

Brown, from Ballygawley Road in Aghadowey, ran a gas shop in Coleraine and had been asked to investigate a problem at the apartment earlier in 2010.

He recommended replacing the boiler and flue and converting the burner from natural gas to liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

Experts concluded part of the flue, used to carry emissions to the outside through a void in the ceiling, had separated because sections were not secured properly at a right-angle bend.

Brown initially denied any offences but later pleaded guilty to two charges of manslaughter and a further 19 health and safety charges. He was sentenced to four years and will spend two behind bars.

Mr Justice Weir said lives could be saved if people in the North West got qualified gas engineers to "check their installations are safe" in the wake of publicity surrounding the case.

irish@mgn.co.uk

"Part of the flue to take emissions outside was not properly secured EXPERT VIEW IN COURT EVIDENCE

CAPTION(S):

VICTIMS Pals and Neil Aaron Davidson McFerran

SCENE Flats in Castleknock near Coleraine

DEATH PIPE Botched connection that caused deaths

FATAL MISTAKE George Brown at court in Belfast yesterday

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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 21, 2014
Words:372
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