SOME “key and important” witnesses are refusing to cooperate with an inquest into the deaths of a Wakefield brother and sister who died while on holiday in Corfu, Wakefield Coroner’s Court was told.
Frustration that some individuals have declined to take part in the inquest into the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd emerged at a hearing today.
Christianne, seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert died while on holiday on the Greek island with their father, Neil, and his then partner, and now wife, Ruth in 2006.
They were on a half-term holiday at the Louis Corcyra Beach Hotel, booked through travel agent Thomas Cook.
Both children died after carbon monoxide fumes leaked into the chalet and both adults fell into comas. The full inquest into their deaths will be heard in Wakefield on April 27.
Today’s pre-hearing at Wakefield Coroner’s Court was told some witnesses had indicated that they would not take part, and could not be compelled to do so because they were outside the court’s jurisdiction
Leslie Thomas QC, representing the children’s family, told coroner David Hinchliff: “These are key and important witnesses. They are refusing to cooperate with your inquiry.
“This is the first inquiry on British soil in an open courtroom into these tragic deaths.” He added that Bobby and Christi’s parents were “extremely upset” by the refusal to cooperate.
The hearing was told the witnesses who refusing to cooperate had taken part in previous inquiries into the youngsters’ deaths. Mr Hinchliff said: “The fact that they have gone through this before somewhere else doesn’t mean they shouldn’t help with this inquest.” Mr Thomas said that among other witnesses to be called is a Corgi-registered plumber who stayed at the resort and found that a boiler was leaking fumes. Other witnesses include the current and previous chief executives of Thomas Cook.