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Published on Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Resort group faces legal action after guest died trapped in airing cupboard

A grieving son is taking legal action against MacDonald Resorts after his mother died from hypothermia when she became trapped in an airing cupboard during her holiday.

Former policewoman Elizabeth Isherwood, 60, known as Mary, fought for several hours to free herself after a door handle broke, locking her in the cupboard in her en-suite bathroom in the middle of the night.

Her body was found by staff a week later.

The incident happened on the first night of a one-week stay at the Plas Talgarth holiday complex near Machynlleth, Wales, in September 2017.

According to a statement from law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, who is handling the case, she had tried to escape by clawing through brickwork and plaster, using a pipe she had broken as a chisel to try to cut through the walls.

But water spraying from the other end of the broken pipe drenched her as she battled to escape, accelerating the hypothermia.

Her son Craig, 33, is seeking compensation from holiday resort owners Macdonald Resorts.

He alleges that Macdonald Resorts was negligent in failing to check whether the door handle was working properly.

He said he was bringing the action to try to prevent any other family going through a similar ordeal.

"My mother died in the most terrible circumstances you could imagine. We think she had been trying to escape for several hours," he said.

"Tragically, she had made a hole big enough to climb through, but did not realise her way out was only blocked by a picture screwed to the other side of the wall.

"A couple in a neighbouring apartment heard banging and thought they would report it if it went on after 5pm. Sadly, my mother gave up her attempt at five past five so they assumed it had been maintenance workers who had finished for the day.

"Mum was fit and healthy and had years of a very happy life ahead of her."

He said the legal action was not about the compensation, adding: "How can you put a value on a life? It is about the fact that this should never have happened. I just want the company to admit that they made a mistake in not checking the door properly and make sure that this cannot happen to anyone else."

Adam Wilson, an associate in the serious injury and clinical negligence team at Midlands law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, said: "This was a quite horrific tragedy. There is no amount of money which can compensate Mr Isherwood and his two children for the loss of a much-loved mother and grandmother.

"But we believe that this was a tragedy which could, and should have been avoided. It is impossible to imagine the distress that Mrs Isherwood must have gone through as she tried to free herself from that cupboard.

"The central issue is whether the company was negligent in not correctly maintaining the door at the property, which we believe to be the case."

He said the action would seek compensation for Mrs Isherwood's injuries and the loss of the care she had been giving to her grandchildren.

An earlier inquest ruled Mrs Isherwood had died of misadventure.

A spokeswoman for MacDonald Resorts said: "This was clearly a tragedy for Ms Isherwood and her family and our condolences go out to them. Given the possibility of legal action, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."

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