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Latest News / Mother's agony at gasfitter's fatal shower mistake: 'You killed my son'

NZ Herald – January 27th 2021

The last photo of Jesse Samuel, a selfie taken while out white-baiting the night before he died. Photo / Supplied

The mother of a boy who died from carbon monoxide poisoning after a gasfitter signed off a hot water unit that shouldn't have been installed says the tragedy wasn't an accident and was preventable.

Justine Walker says losing her 12-year-old oldest son has left her permanently paralysed with grief and bitterness.

"It has ripped me apart. I am numb," she told the Herald, ahead of today's court sentencing.

"I feel there is only half of me left, how is this fair on my kids to have half a mum? I've lost everything. I feel helpless, scared unable to find peace or true happiness.

"I still wish every day for Jesse to come home."

Jesse Samuel died in a shower at his family's holiday home in Haast on October 10, 2018.

On the day of the tragedy, Jesse took a shower in the outdoor bathroom, opposite the kitchen where his mother was cooking dinner.

Justine Walker, mother of Jesse Samuel. Photo / Supplied

The second bathroom, which had an extraction fan, was used by family and extra guests. Jesse chose that shower because the water pressure was stronger than the one inside.

"My brother who gave us the shower was assured by the plumber and gasfitter it was fine for the heater to be installed inside. Now my brother feels bad for what happened. He blames himself," Walker said.

An autopsy found Jesse's blood level was 59 per cent saturated with carbon monoxide.

Gasfitter Michael Cartwright and Central Plumbing Ltd, which trades as Laser Plumbing Alexandra, are due to be sentenced today at the Dunedin District Court.

Walker is annoyed Cartwright has been able to continue operating his business.

Whenever she sees a Laser plumbing van driving by with the slogan "totally dependable" she feels "sick".

"I think, 'no you're not'. It is wrong he has a gas certificate and is allowed to keep on working. You teach your kids to own their mistakes and yet he can carry on - where is the accountability?"