Thirteen people are standing trial for the deaths of two British children in their hotel room in 2006 on the Greek island of Corfu. The two children, seven-year old Christianne Shepherd and her six-year old brother Robert, died of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty natural gas boiler beside their room at a five-star hotel in Corfu. The dead children were found dead by a hotel cleaner.
The children’s father Neil Shepherd, 38, and his partner Ruth Beatson, 25, who had been staying in the same bungalow of the hotel at the time of the tragedy, were also found at the scene in a state of coma from which they recovered later. The Shepherds live in West Yorkshire, UK.
The 13 people standing trial for the 2006 deaths include the head of the Hotel Company, manager of the hotel, the maintenance chief, the gas system installation engineers and two employees of the British tour operator Thomas Cook. The suspects face up to five years in prison if they are convicted of the charge of manslaughter.
According to reports in a Greek newspaper, some employees of the hotel were aware of the faulty condition of the boiler the day before the children's deaths but did not repair it, giving the excuse that the room was occupied.
The Greek Ministry of Tourism suspended the license of the hotel immediately after the incident and threatened permanent cancellation of the license, if the responsibility of the management for these two deaths was established in court.
British newspapers also reported that, a few days before the children’s deaths, another British couple staying in the same bungalow of the hotel became sick of “a mysterious illness" and had to be rushed to a Greek clinic in an ambulance.
The death of the children sparked off widespread fears of a slump in Corfu’s tourism industry. The island is one of the most favorite holiday destinations for British tourists who number well over 400,000 every year.