Holiday-maker, 60, died after drinking lethal cleaning fluid by accident

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By Walsall Advertiser | Thursday, July 19, 2012, 09:20

A RETIRED hairdresser from Walsall collapsed and died after drinking cleaning fluid which she mistakenly believed was a bottle of water in her hotel room, an inquest has heard.

Tragic Gloria Smith, 60, was enjoying a two-week break in Cyprus with her partner Raymond Francis, 62, when she took a sip from what she believed was a bottle of mineral water.

But, unbeknown to her, the bottle contained lethal stain remover which had been used by a cleaner who accidentally left it on a table in the couple's room.

Seconds after drinking the fluid, the mother-of-one collapsed in the bathroom and screamed: "It's poison."

Despite being rushed to hospital, she died after suffering a build-up of fluid in the lungs brain sparked by the cleaning fluid.

An inquest heard on Monday (July 16) how it was on the fourth day of her holiday when she drank the poisonous liquid in September 2010.

The hearing at Walsall Coroner's Court was told the cleaner had put stain remover in the container to avoid carrying a big bottle of it while she made up the rooms.

Gloria's distraught partner told the inquest: "I put the liquid to my lips after Gloria collapsed to the floor and I could immediately feel burning. I tried to help her straight away, the bottle was the same appearance as a normal small water container."

The inquest heard the cleaner at the luxury five-star Salamis Bay Conti Resort Hotel in Famagusta in north Cyprus where the couple were staying admitted she had siphoned the dangerous stain removing fluid to a clear water bottle.

In a statement in the inquest, the cleaner said the bottle "had not been intentionally left on the table".

Recording a narrative verdict, Coroner Robin Balmain blasted the hotel's grossly negligent practice of transferring cleaning fluids to drinking bottles.

"Anyone seeing the bottle would assume it contains water," he told the inquest.

Speaking from his Walsall home after Monday's inquest, Mr Francis said: "It was negligence. She was an emotional lady but very loving, we had spoken about getting married. She had so much to live for, she was very happy. She said 'I have a future to look forward to'. Gloria should not have died.

"It was a stupid, careless mistake. We'd come back from a morning on the beach and I suggested we go to the Turkish baths for a sauna," he added,

"When we came back to the room Gloria said she was going to have a shower and she said she was thirsty. She went over the table which had little bottles of vodka and soft drinks on it and picked up a bottle of water.

"Gloria went into the bathroom and a few seconds later I heard her screaming, shouting: 'It''s poison, help me!' She'd dropped the bottle into the sink and was on all fours trying to throw up into the toilet."

He added: "I picked up the bottle and tasted it and it burned. I rang the hotel reception for the doctor but they said he had left for the day so they called an ambulance. The ambulance took Gloria to Famagusta Hospital where a nurse thought she was hyperventilating so gave her a paper bag.

"When the doctors did examine her they got the defibrillator machine out and were about to transfer her to another specialist hospital but she died in the ambulance."

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