British holidaymaker died in Northern Cyprus after cleaner left toxic fluid in water bottle
A coroner in Walsall has criticised a five-star hotel’s practice of transferring toxic cleaning fluids to water bottles, after a British holidaymaker died in agony after mistakenly drinking from one.
Gloria Smith, 60, and her fiancé Raymond Francis were staying at the five-star Salamis Bay Conti Resort Hotel in Famagusta in 2010 and returned to their room after a trip to the beach.
Ms Smith drank from what appeared to be a mineral water bottle left among miniatures of vodka and soft drinks on a table in their room and collapsed in agony on the bathroom floor shortly afterwards.
Her fiancé said he put the bottle to his mouth and the fluid burned his lips.
Ms Smith was taken to hospital because the hotel doctor was off duty, but staff at the hospital treating her spoke little English and thought she was hyperventilating and handed her a paper bag.
Ms Smith was later transferred to a specialist hospital but died en route in the amublance from a heart attack. The cleaning fluid she drank had caused fluid to build up in her lungs and brain. Mr Francis told the inquest that he found her in the hotel bathroom screaming, “It’s poison, help me.”
The hotel maid who left the bottle in the couple’s room was arrested but released after it was decided she had made what Mr Francis said was a “stupid” and “negligent” mistake.
“Gloria should not have died – it was negligence. It was a stupid, careless mistake,” said Mr Francis.
The coroner Robin Balmain said that had the incident occurred in the UK, the hotel would have faced prosecution on criminal charges, regardless of any action taken against the maid, who sent a statement to the inquest sayiing the bottle had not been left in the room intentionally.
Mr Balmain recorded a narrative verdict.