Frustration as witnesses refuse to help with Bobby and Christi Shepherd inquest

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Witness are refusing to cooperate with an inquest into the deaths of Bobby and Christi Shepherd who died while on holiday in Corfu.

Frustration that some individuals have declined to take part in the inquest into the deaths of the Horbury schoolchildren emerged at a hearing today.

Christianne, seven, and her six-year-old brother Robert died while on holiday on the island with their dad, Neil, and his then partner, and now wife, Ruth back 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 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 that.

The witnesses refusing to cooperate had taken part in previous inquiries into the youngsters’ deaths, the hearing was told.

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.

Witnesses in Greece may give evidence over video link or the internet video service Skype.

Neil and Ruth Shepherd were at today’s hearing, along with the children’s mum Sharon Wood and her husband Paul.