The ‘dazzling’ daughter of a multi-millionaire publishing boss was killed when a plumber botched the job of fitting a new boiler, a court heard today.
Tragic blonde Zoe Anderson, 24, was overcome by carbon monoxide fumes at the home of her wealthy father, Future Publishing founder Chris Anderson.
The deadly fumes had ‘flooded’ the sprawling Victorian town house after leaking out of a flue pipe from a boiler fitted days earlier by Andrew Hartley, it was said.
Bristol Crown Court heard how Hartley, 36, did a ‘rushed’ and ‘botched job’ - failing to secure the flue extension pipe correctly.
Zoe died within 30 minutes of being exposed to the poisoned air as she took a shower in the property's en suite bathroom.
James Townsend, prosecuting, told the jury Hartley, of Frome, Somerset, admits ‘forgetting’ to secure the boiler with screws but claims he correctly fitted the flue pipe.
He said: ‘She died as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning, or to put it in simple terms, from the fumes from the gas boiler that was used to put the water and central heating on.
‘This defendant, Mr Hartley, was a registered gas fitter and he fitted the boiler on the 16 December 2010, on what was about 12 days before Zoe's death.
‘When the boiler was working instead of the fumes going down piping to the outside they were being blown out into the garage rather than the flue pipe.
‘The extension pipe should be firmly fitted to the turret elbow and in addition the extension piping should be secured in the turret elbow by the use of screws.
‘The only explanation for the boiler leaking the fumes within days of the fitting can be that it wasn't attached at all in the first place or if it was it wasn't left fitted correctly.’
Bond: Zoe Anderson and her father, the multi-millionaire media mogul Chris Anderson
Zoe had been planning on meeting a friend on December 27, but never showed up and couldn't be contacted
Promise: Zoe was four days from flying out to New York to start a new job, her father Chris told the court
The court was told how registered gas fitter Hartley fitted the new boiler in the garage at a cost of more than £2,000 in the home in Bath, Somerset, on December 16 2010.
Zoe had flown to New York to see her father on the day before the fitting and returned a week later to spend Christmas with her mother and two sisters in the Lake District.
She returned to the property on December 27 and made plans to meet a friend at 8pm the next day - but failed to show and could not be contacted.
Accused: Andrew Hartley arrives at Bristol Crown Court for the trial with an unnamed woman
On December 29, her boyfriend, Alastair Uhlig arrived at the house at around 6pm and used a spare set of keys to enter when he could not get hold of her.
He discovered Zoe slumped on the toilet of the shower room and attempted to revive her - but she was already dead.
Mr Townsend added: ‘Initially no one knew what had caused Zoe's death, it appeared to be a mystery but after an examination by a pathologist it was clear she had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.’
Expert tests found that the boiler's flue pipe had not been properly attached to the turret elbow - and there was a gap of 22mm between them.
Further investigations revealed a route from the waste pipe in the garage - where the boiler was situated - going up into the vanity unit underneath the basin in the bathroom where Zoe was found.
Hartley was arrested on suspicion of Zoe's manslaughter and immediately admitted he had neglected to fit the screws but maintained that the boiler had been correctly fitted.
He suggested that the flue pipe had become disconnected during the cold weather.
Mr Townsend added: ‘The prosecution say that the explanation, a desperate explanation, was put forward by the defendant to try to explain the botched job he had undertaken.
‘The failure to fit the screws, a tiny but important job in its own right, was a serious measure of indication of the defendant's attitude to the job.’
The court was told how Zoe had used the house as a ‘base’ for a few months while she was between jobs, having left a job in London and being offered her ‘dream’ placement in New York.
Lethal: Zoe died within 30 minutes of being exposed to the gas, the court heard
Grim find: Zoe was found slumped on the toilet seat by her boyfriend, Alastair Uhlig
Her devastated father Chris, who quit Future Publishing in 2001 and now runs digital firm TED, took to the witness box for the first day of Hartley's manslaughter trial.
The father-of-three told the jury of seven women and five men how eldest daughter Zoe had been due to fly out to her ‘dream’ job in New York just four days after her death.
Mr Anderson said: ‘She got a job as a lab researcher in London. It was a good job but unfortunately it involved killing large numbers of rats.
‘After a few months she couldn't stand it anymore and she left in August 2010. She did some tuition and some odd jobs.
‘Her dream was to go work on the Internet and she was to secure an internship at Foursquare in New York.
‘She was four days from flying out to New York...’
Hartley denies one count of manslaughter and one count of breaching gas safety regulations under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.
His trial, expected to last two weeks, continues.
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