Thomas Cook pays out to parents of Corfu victims as convicted hotel manager goes back to work
The parents of two young children killed by carbon monoxide poisoning on a Thomas Cook holiday in Corfu in 2006 are to receive a “financial gesture of goodwill” from the firm, they revealed last night.
Sharon Wood and Neil Shepherd, whose children Bobby and Christi Shepherd, aged six and seven, were killed by a faulty boiler, made the announcement after meeting the holiday giant’s chief executive Peter Fankhauser in London.
The amount was not disclosed but Mr Shepherd said they plan to make donations to charities. At a press conference in London, Mrs Wood said: “Nothing can give us back our children or the carefree lives we once led. No one can erase the lifelong pain for Christi and Bobby’s family and friends. We cannot change the past and we accept it may be time to look to the future.”
Bobby and Christi died when they were overcome by fumes from a faulty boiler as they stayed in a bungalow in the grounds of a hotel with their father and his partner Ruth, now his wife.
The jury at the inquest into their deaths gave a conclusion of unlawful killing and said Thomas Cook had “breached their duty of care”.
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Mr Fankhauser issued a public apology to the family as the company seeks to halt a mounting reputational crisis over the way it has treated them since the incident. He met both parents yesterday in London, and Leslie Thomas QC, their lawyer, told the press conference that the company had “done the right thing”.
He said: “They listened to the heart-breaking accounts from my clients and heard how their company effectively destroyed their lives. Mr Fankhauser apologised to my clients face-to-face for all the mistakes he and his company made over the last nine years. He kept his word and gave a sincere and heartfelt apology. In addition Thomas Cook have made a financial gesture of goodwill towards both families and we hope this will go some way to repairing the pain that they have suffered.”
Mrs Wood added: “We have asked Thomas Cook to push forward our request to demolish bungalow 112 so that it can be a lasting tribute in the form of a playground in the spot where Christi and Bobby died.”
Some customers have threatened to boycott Thomas Cook after it emerged that the firm received around £3m compensation from the hotel chain responsible for the incident, and following criticisms from the family.
The travel company said earlier this week that it would donate £1.5m to the charity Unicef, while the remaining £1.5m went to its insurers for underwriting legal fees.
The inquest last week heard that the youngsters died due to flaws in the maintenance of a boiler in an outbuilding next to the bungalow where they were staying on an October break.
Meanwhile, it was revealed by ITV News that the hotel manager whose negligence led to the deaths has been running a new hotel used by the tour operator, ITV News has discovered.
Thomas Cook said it was ‘shocked’ at the news.
Mr Fankhauser said he felt “physically sick” when it emerged that George Chrysikopoulos, who was convicted of negligent manslaughter over the deaths, had been managing the Mitsis Laguna Hotel in Crete. Chrysikopoulos has since been dismissed, while Thomas Cook has also called for electrician Christos Louvros, who was found guilty of negligent manslaughter, to be sacked after returning to work at Corfu’s Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel.