Bobby and Christi Shepherd inquests: Jury told to reach a verdict of unlawful killing

Christi and Bobby Shepherd
Christi and Bobby Shepherd

The coroner in the inquest of Bobby and Christi Shepherd has told the jury the only verdict they can reach is one of unlawful killing.

Horbury schoolchildren Bobby, six, and Christi, seven, were poisoned by carbon monoxide when fumes from a faulty boiler leaked into the bungalow they were staying in during a half-term holiday booked through Thomas Cook in Corfu in October 2006.

The children’s dad and his then partner, now wife, Ruth, were also overcome by the fumes and both fell into a coma.

Sending the jury out to consider its verdict, Coroner David Mr Hinchliff said: “The only conclusion you can come to is one of unlawful killing.

“This has been a complex, difficult and sometimes harrowing exercise but you have to make your determination based on the evidence you have heard and not on any feelings of sympathy or empathy with the family.”

The jury has already heard from the children’s father Neil Shepherd who told the inquest he “firmly believes his children would still be alive if Thomas Cook had inspected the faulty boiler.

Mr Shepherd broke down in tears when he gave his evidence.

He said: “I firmly believe my children would be here today had Thomas Cook carried out an inspection of this boiler.”

He also told the inquest he didn’t know his children had died until four days after their death when he awoke from a coma caused by the carbon monoxide fumes.

The children’s mother Sharon Wood, accused Thomas Cook of “gross negligence” over the death of her two children.

Mrs Wood said: “The fact is that this is not just a difference in legal standards abroad. This is gross negligence.

“I think we have got to look a bit further up the chain of command of Thomas Cook. We pay tour operators to protect our friends and family when they go abroad.

“Whereas, actually, they have done nothing more than you could do yourself.”

The hearing continues.