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Barmaid sues for £200,000 after gas explosion

05 October 2012

In January 2009 a massive explosion destroyed  the Drumtochty Arms Hotel, Auchenblae, near Aberdeen. Barmaid Danielle Ormond suffered crush injuries, broken bones and had to be dug out of the rubble. She has serious post traumatic stress disorder, according to her lawyers, and is suing her former employers and a maintenance firm for a total of £200,000.

The hotel had to be demolished after the blast
The hotel had to be demolished after the blast

The Court of Session in Edinburgh is hearing the case, and the Crown Office said an investigation into the explosion was still ongoing.

Both the hotel’s owners and the maintenance firm deny they caused the explosion.

The accident happened after Ms Ormond went into the basement to change a beer barrel. Instant Catering Maintenance Ltd were installing a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) tank at the back of the hotel.

One of their employees, Neil Coffield, was working in the kitchen area on equipment to run off LPG.

Lawyers for the hotel’s owners, Drumtochty Castle Ltd, state in the court papers: “About fifty seconds before the explosion [Mr Coffield] said to [Ms Ormond] about smelling gas that he had ‘been doing this job so long that I can’t smell it anymore.’”

The hotel’s lawyers allege: “He caused a significant leak of gas which mixed with air and exploded, probably as a result of ignition by an electrical spark.”

They add: “Shortly after the explosion [Mr Coffield]  stated…that his manager would “go mental”, and when asked why this would be so, explained it was because ‘I lit the cooker’.

“He then twice apologised for what he had done. The hotel consequently had to be demolished.”

Ms Ormond’s lawyers say in the papers she suffered serious injuries as well as flashbacks.

They say “believed to be true that there were no suitable arrangements made for the ventilation of the kitchen.”

“[Mr Coffield] worked on at least two ovens and a griddle, had difficulty in resolving an ignition problem with a cooker, and purged pipes of gas. He turned on the ignite controls to the chargrill, griddle and fryer to “on”, in which position they remained when the explosion occurred.”

Lawyers for Instant Catering claim the hotel “did not make suitable arrangements for the ventilation of the kitchen”.

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