The heartbroken mother of one of the teenagers who died of carbon monoxide poisoning at a holiday home on the north coast yesterday told of her “relief” that gas fitter George Brown admitted his responsibility for their deaths.
Friends Neil McFerran and Aaron Davidson died after they were overcome by the deadly gas in a holiday apartment in Castlerock on August 3, 2010.
The pair – who along with another friend Matthew Gaw had gone to the seaside town for a break ahead of getting their A Level results – were found by their parents, who had rushed from their homes in Newtownabbey to Castlerock when they were unable to contact them on the phone.
Katrina Davidson, 50, said she and her husband “were so thankful that it had not gone to trial”.
“We hoped he would have the decency to plead guilty before it all started,” said the dental nurse.
“Looking forward to four weeks giving evidence would just have been heartbreaking. We have been living with this nightmare for three and a half years. Now he has to be sentenced, but I haven’t even thought about that.
“But he has pleaded guilty to what he has done and everybody knows that he was the cause of the deaths.
“We are just trying to take in what has happened now before thinking about the sentencing. Obviously for us [whatever he is given] it will never be good enough. Their deaths were so unnecessary.”
Mrs Davidson said if Aaron was still alive today, “he would have been 22 years old, finished his degree and our lives would have been so different”.
“At the minute we don’t know what way our feelings are,” she said.
“It is a bit like a rollercoaster. Every day is different, but there is always something to bring you down.
“He [Brown] took our lives and our future away from us. But we try not to dwell on it because you get so angry. We just wanted justice and now we have it.”
Last night Catherine McFerran also welcomed the guilty plea but declined to comment any further.
Both mothers started the Gis a Hug Foundation a short time after their sons’ deaths in a bid to prevent any other families going through the same heartache.
Mrs Davidson said working for the charity “helped give us a focus”.
Mrs McFerran fronted a campaign to bring about a change in the law which means carbon monoxide alarms must be fitted in any newly-built houses in Northern Ireland.
And both families fronted a drive for a change in the legislation governing building regulations that cover all appliances that burn fuel. The law came into force in 2012.
Mrs Davidson added: “As we hand the detectors out to people we know some of those are going to go off and save someone’s life.
“That keeps us going.”