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Church in poisoning drama was prosecuted three years ago

bellringers at st botolphs
bellringers at st botolphs

A church at the centre of a carbon monoxide drama which left bell ringers 'close to death', according to paramedics, was prosecuted after an accident three years ago, the Gravesend Messenger reports today.

Four volunteers at St Botolph's in Northfleet needed treatment after being overcome by the effects of breathing the potentially fatal gas just before the Remembrance Sunday service.

Church wardens dialled 999 after a 62-year-old woman collapsed in the bell tower and another man suffered dizzy spells. A faulty boiler is being blamed.

Gravesham Council is now investigating the incident with support from the Health and Safety Executive.

In July 2009, Tony Cresswell, 54, fell 20ft through the tower floor.

The church was fined £3,000 after the Parochial Church Council admitted failing to maintain the structure in a safe condition.

Police have not ruled out criminal proceedings over the latest incident.

Paramedic Russell Timms said the bell ringers had "cherry red faces", which is symptomatic of a near-fatal dose of carbon monoxide poisoning.

The 50-year-old said: "We were met by the church warden, Wendy Waller, who said that a lady had collapsed in the bell tower. The patient was short of breath and unresponsive."

Four members were taken by ambulance to Darent Valley Hospital and the remaining two were traced by police officers, who advised them to undergo tests.

Blood tests showed all six were exposed to carbon monoxide, but they were all released the same day.

Vicar of St Botolph’s the Rev Lawrence Smith said the tower had been sealed off until the faulty boiler was fixed and bell ringing cancelled until further notice. He said: "We’re not sure why that happened. I can’t thank the paramedics enough, they were first class. I want to thank my wardens for their help too, they dealt with the situation in exemplary fashion."

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