Suspended jail terms for deaths of British children in Greek hotel

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A court on the Greek island of Corfu handed down Wednesday suspended prison sentences to staff at a hotel where two British children died from carbon monoxide poisoning in 2006.

The court handed down seven-year sentences to the manager, head technician and electrician of the Louis Corcyra Beach hotel where Christianne Shepherd, seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert died from respiratory failure after carbon monoxide leaked into their bungalow room from a faulty boiler.

A fourth suspect, a civil engineer, was sentenced to two years.

All four appealed their sentences and were set free.

Two Thomas Cook employees also on trial, Nicola Gibson and Richard Carson, were acquitted.

Eleven people in total were on trial for manslaughter by negligence.

The children's father Neil Shepherd, of Horbury, West Yorkshire, and his partner Ruth Beatson, who had accompanied the children on the trip, had earlier recounted how they were unable to help the children.

They themselves lost consciousness and respectively spent four and three days in a coma after being found by a chambermaid.

Shepherd and the children's mother Sharon Wood expressed disappointment with the court decision. They asked that the bungalow where the accident occurred be torn down and a memorial erected in its place.

"Our feelings go beyond disappointment," Wood told reporters.

"We feel each of the accused were links in a chain that led to our children's deaths, including Thomas Cook who sent our children to a room full of gas and left them to die," she said.

Shepherd said the travel agent's managers "should bow their heads in shame" over the accident.

"We feel their safety systems failed miserably," he said.

"It is too late for our children, but if a safer inspection of rooms comes as a result, their deaths will not have been in vain," Shepherd said.

© 2010 AFP

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