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HomenewsBritish couple who died in an apparent mystery tragedy at an Egyptian...

British couple who died in an apparent mystery tragedy at an Egyptian hotel were staying next to a room which had been fumigated for bed bugs, inquest hears

A British couple who died in an apparent mystery tragedy at an Egyptian hotel were staying next to a room which had been fumigated for bed bugs, an inquest heard.

John and Susan Cooper were fit and well before they died at a five-star all-inclusive resort in Hurghada, on the country’s Red Sea coast, five years ago.

But the couple suffered acute vomiting and diarrhoea overnight, followed by heart failure.

Mr Cooper, 69, a builder, died in his hotel room at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel on August 21, 2018.

Mrs Cooper, 63, who worked at a Thomas Cook travel agent, died hours later in hospital.

John and Susan Cooper (pictured) died after falling ill at a Red Sea resort in Egypt on August 21, 2018 John and Susan Cooper (pictured) died after falling ill at a Red Sea resort in Egypt on August 21, 2018

John and Susan Cooper (pictured) died after falling ill at a Red Sea resort in Egypt on August 21, 2018

Mr Cooper died in his hotel room while Mrs Cooper died hours later in hospital Mr Cooper died in his hotel room while Mrs Cooper died hours later in hospital

Mr Cooper died in his hotel room while Mrs Cooper died hours later in hospital 

An inquest into the deaths of the couple, from Burnley, Lancashire, was resumed on Tuesday by Coroner Dr James Adeley.

He said fellow holidaymakers had ‘found bed bugs’ in the next room, which was then ‘treated with a pest control named Lambda, otherwise known as Lambada’.

Lambda is part of a group of chemicals known as pyrethroids, which can be toxic in humans if inhaled in large concentrations. 

The inquest in Blackburn was read a statement from German tourist Dominik Bibi, whose mother-in-law was due to stay in the neighbouring room.

His party arrived in the early hours of August 20 – and found bed bugs.

Mr Bibi said: ‘On entering, we immediately noticed a funny smell, like mould or damp. When we checked the bed, there were a lot of bed bugs.’

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The party complained and his mother-in-law took a room further up the same corridor.

When Mr Bibi was at his mother-in-law’s new room at lunchtime on August 20, he witnessed three staff entering the infested room next to the Coopers – one carrying ‘a two to three litre cannister, like the type you can buy in a supermarket’.

He said: ‘They were in the room for approximately five to 10 minutes. Afterwards I saw them (put) tape all around the door.

‘I’d not say the job the three men did could be described as very professional.’

The inquest heard Mr and Mrs Cooper, on a Thomas Cook trip with their extended family and friends, used the air conditioning in their room for the first time the evening before they died – hours after the fumigation.

Their couple’s granddaughter Molly Omerod, 12 at the time but now 18, and who was staying in their room, noticed a peculiar smell.

She said: ‘It was a pasta-yeasty smell. Grandma sprayed perfume then we got ready and went out for tea.’

Mrs Cooper – a former beautician described by her daughter Kelly Omerod as ‘glam’ and who had recently even taken part in a ‘Tough Mudder’ obstacle race – returned to the bedroom with her granddaughter before midnight.

Her husband followed after a last gin and tonic with family friend Barry Clayton, also on the holiday with his wife Louise, their children and grandchildren.

But Molly said she soon started to feel ill and moved rooms to stay with her mother and two younger siblings.

She said: ‘I woke up feeling really sick. I just said I wanted to go back to my mum’s room.’

The couple's daughter Kelly Ormerod (centre), with her daughters Molly (left) and Jess (right) outside Blackburn Town Hall on Tuesday The couple's daughter Kelly Ormerod (centre), with her daughters Molly (left) and Jess (right) outside Blackburn Town Hall on Tuesday

The couple’s daughter Kelly Ormerod (centre), with her daughters Molly (left) and Jess (right) outside Blackburn Town Hall on Tuesday

The couple died  during a stay at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel, a five-star resort in the egyptian Red Sea town of Hurghada The couple died  during a stay at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel, a five-star resort in the egyptian Red Sea town of Hurghada

The couple died  during a stay at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel, a five-star resort in the egyptian Red Sea town of Hurghada

Molly, who was walked there by Mr Cooper, said both he and his wife, who had woken up, were ‘behaving normally’.

But Mrs Cooper failed to meet Mrs Clayton for their 6.30am ritual of reserving sun loungers before breakfast.

She and her husband were found by their daughter, Mrs Omerod at about 10.30am.

Mrs Omerod, a civil servant with HMRC, told of chaos as efforts were made to revive the pair.

READ MORE HERE:  Daughter of British couple who died on holiday to Egypt claims their bodies have been sent back to the UK with their organs missing – just days after the country returned another tourist’s remains without his heart or kidneys

She said her father, who enjoyed sport and was in good health, answered the door but was ‘bumbling and bouncing… as though he’d had 10 pints of beer’.

Her mother was sprawled on the bed ‘groaning’.

Both had been heavily sick and could not dress themselves, the court heard.

Mrs Omerod said she noticed an ‘acetate’ smell in the room – which she found strange because her mother had false nails and did not use nail polish.

Two doctors turned up who ‘didn’t have a clue what they were doing,’ she said.

Her father died in the room, while her mother was taken to the hotel clinic then hospital in Hurghada, where she died.

Molly Omerod said that while still at the hotel following her grandparents’ deaths, she saw a box containing an air conditioning unit being carried by hotel staff.

A Thomas Cook representative confirmed the Coopers’ room had been entered by hotel staff before it was sealed off by police, the inquest heard.

At the time of the Coopers’ deaths, Egyptian officials said it was the ‘normal death of an English old man and his wife’ due to heart failure.

But a pre-inquest hearing in 2019 heard an expert report suggested the couple’s deaths were caused by neither radiation, natural causes, carbon monoxide nor food poisoning – of which there had been a rise in cases at the hotel that summer.

The inquest is due to conclude today.

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