Deadly drink in Cyprus which led to British holidaymaker's death a "negligent" mistake


A woman on holiday in Cyprus was poisoned and died after drinking from a mineral water bottle containing cleaning fluid.

Package holiday accident abroad

An inquest heard that Gloria Smith collapsed after drinking from a bottle of what appeared to be mineral water while staying at the Salamis Bay Conti Resort Hotel in Famagusta.

Ms Smith, a retired hairdresser, was taken by ambulance to Famagusta Hospital, where she was first believed to have been hyperventilating. Following an examination, Ms Smith suffered a heart attack and died in another ambulance during transfer to a specialist hospital.

Walsall Coroner's Court heard that a toxic stain remover, which caused fluid to build up in Ms Smith's lungs and brain, had been poured into the mineral water bottle in error by a chambermaid.

Although the maid was arrested after Ms Smith's death, she was released without charge after it was realised she had made a "stupid" and "negligent" mistake.

Ms Smith, 60, was on a fortnight's vacation with her fiancé, Raymond Francis, when the incident occurred in September 2010.

After Ms Smith collapsed, Mr Francis called the hotel reception to demand an ambulance, the hotel's doctor having finished work for the day.

"I picked up the bottle and tasted it and it burned," said Mr Francis. "I tried to help her straight away." Mr Francis said the bottle looked exactly like an ordinary small water container.

The inquest heard a written statement from the chambermaid, in which she said the bottle "had not been intentionally left on the table".

Recording a narrative verdict, coroner Robin Balmain condemned the hotel's "grossly negligent practice" of transferring cleaning fluids to drinking bottles which led to Ms Smith's death.

Mr Balmain said: "Anyone seeing the bottle would assume it contained water. If that happened in this country then irrespective of any action against the cleaner the hotel would find themselves prosecuted."

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