A gas fitter who caused the deaths of his partner and her 10-year-old daughter on a boat in Lake Windermere has been spared an immediate prison sentence.
Kelly Webster, 36, and Lauren Thornton, who lived in Leyland, were overcome by carbon monoxide fumes after Kelly’s partner Matthew Eteson, 42, fitted a dodgy generator on board his boat Arniston.
Eteson has today been sentenced to two years imprisonment, suspended for two years, for the manslaughter of the mother and daughter.
Kelly and Lauren were found dead in the sleeping compartment on board Matthew Eteson’s boat during the Easter weekend on April 1, 2013. The cause of death was poisoning by carbon monoxide from the exhaust system of a generator which Matthew Eteson had installed on board.
Matthew Eteson was a registered and experienced Gas Safe installer. Shortly before the Easter weekend he fabricated an exhaust system for the generator and used the generator to power a fan heater in the passenger quarters while Kelly, Lauren and Mr Eteson slept. The exhaust system was poorly designed and poorly constructed, using unsuitable materials. The generator was not secured or anchored to the floor and joints in the exhaust pipework were very poorly fabricated. The temperatures generated caused the pipework to fail as soft soldered joints melted , and as a result the exhaust gases containing carbon monoxide were discharged into the boat.
In addition to this very poor standard of work, the defendant neglected to test this system in the circumstances and under the electrical load for which he intended to use it, and he also knew that the carbon monoxide detectors on the boat had been disabled.
Joanna White, Senior Crown Prosecutor from CPS North West Complex Casework Unit said:
“As a registered gas fitter, Matthew Eteston knew the dangers of carbon monoxide and knew the risk of death if the pipework designed to evacuate the exhaust gases failed. Tragically, the poor design and construction of the work he carried out on the exhaust system directly led to the deaths of Kelly Webster and Lauren Thornton.
“This case should act as a warning about the terrible consequences of such a poor standard of work in the installation of appliances. Although Matthew Eteson did not intend to cause their deaths, the jury, who heard all the evidence, found that Kelly and Lauren lost their lives because of his gross negligence, and the obvious dangers that he created. They therefore found him criminally responsible for their deaths.
“Our thoughts and sympathies are with Kelly and Lauren’s families and friends at this time, who have been left devastated by their deaths.”