Couple slept next to room fumigated for bedbugs before resort hotel deaths
A COUPLE who died under apparently mysterious circumstances at an Egyptian hotel were staying next to a room which had been fumigated for bedbugs, an inquest heard.
John and Susan Cooper were fit and well before they died at a five- star all-inclusive resort in Hurghada, on the country’s Red Sea coast, five years ago.
But the couple suffered acute vomiting and diarrhoea overnight, followed by heart failure.
Mr Cooper, 69, a builder, died in his hotel room at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel on August 21, 2018 and his 63-year-old wife, who worked at a Thomas Cook travel agent, died hours later in hospital.
An inquest into the deaths of the couple, from Burnley, was resumed yesterday by senior coroner Dr James Adeley.
He said fellow holidaymakers had found bedbugs in the next room, which was then ‘treated with a pest control named Lambda’. It is part of a group of chemicals known as pyrethroids, which can be toxic if inhaled in large concentrations.
The inquest in Blackburn heard a statement from German tourist Dominik Bibi, whose mother-in-law was due to stay next door.
His party arrived in the early hours of August 20 and found bedbugs. Mr Bibi said: ‘We immediately noticed a funny smell, like mould or damp. When we checked the bed, there were a lot of bedbugs.’
The party complained and his mother-in-law took a room further up the same corridor.
When Mr Bibi was at his motherin-law’s new room at lunchtime on August 20, he witnessed three staff entering the infested room next to the Coopers – one carrying ‘a two to three litre canister’.
He said: ‘I’d not say the job the three men did could be described as very professional.’
The inquest heard Mr and Mrs Cooper, on a Thomas Cook trip with their family and friends, used the air conditioning in their room for the first time the evening before they died – hours after the fumigation. Their granddaughter Molly Omerod, now 18, and who was staying in their room, noticed a peculiar smell before going out for tea.
Mrs Cooper returned to the bedroom with her granddaughter, who later moved rooms due to feeling ill, before midnight. Her husband followed after a last gin and tonic with family friend Barry Clayton, also on the holiday with his wife Louise.
But Mrs Cooper failed to meet Mrs Clayton for their 6.30am ritual of reserving sun loungers.
She and her husband were found by their daughter, Kelly Omerod, at about 10.30am. Both had been heavily sick and could not dress themselves, the court heard.
Mr Cooper died in the room, while his wife was taken to the hotel clinic then hospital in Hurghada, where she died.
Molly said while still at the hotel after her grandparents’ deaths, she saw a box with an air conditioning unit inside it being carried by staff.
A Thomas Cook representative confirmed the room was entered by hotel staff before it was sealed off by police, the inquest heard.
At the time of their deaths, Egyptian officials said it was the ‘normal death of an English old man and his wife’ due to heart failure.
But a pre-inquest hearing in 2019 heard an expert report suggested their deaths were caused by neither radiation, natural causes, carbon monoxide nor food poisoning. The inquest is due to conclude today.
‘Treated with a pest control’