Boat death tragedy ‘inevitable’

Lauren Thornton, 10, and her mother Kelly Webster, 36, both from Leyland
Lauren Thornton, 10, and her mother Kelly Webster, 36, both from Leyland
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An expert investigator said the standard of work carried out by gas fitter Matthew Eteson to a generator on board his boat on Windermere was of such a low standard that failure was “inevitable.”

Howard Reed, an expert with 45 years experience in the gas and ventilation industry examined the fabrication following the deaths of Kelly Webster, 36, and Lauren Thornton, 10, from Leyland, as they slept on the boat on Easter Monday 2013.

Giving evidence at Preston Crown Court, Mr Reed said: “It was not a case of if it happens but when it happens.”

He added Eteson’s training would have equipped him with the knowledge to have known the modifications he made to the Hyundai generator were not suitable. Eteson achieved City and Guilds advanced crafts certification in 1992. As an accredited Gas Safe engineer he would also be trained in the dangers of carbon monoxide, the court heard.

Kelly and Lauren died on April 1 after the generator was brought below deck to power a fan heater. Prior to the tragedy Eteson, of Appleton Road, Hale, Cheshire, modified the generator to fit a silencer and brought it below deck.

The prosecution allege his decision to bring the generator indoors, the poor standard of the work he carried out and his failure to test the equipment under the load it would be under led to the deaths. Eteson denies gross negligence manslaughter.