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Three Upper Valley gas fitters indicted in carbon monoxide poisoning deaths

The Associated Press
Published: 11/20/2020 10:20:57 PM
Modified: 11/20/2020 10:20:45 PM

NORTH HAVERHILL, N.H. — Three gas fitters from the Upper Valley have been indicted on negligent homicide charges in the 2019 carbon monoxide poisoning deaths of a couple in their northern Grafton County home.

State police who went to the Lyman home of John Courtney, 71, and April Courtney, 63, in January 2019 found them dead, along with several cats and dogs. The state Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death to be accidental due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

Grafton County indictments released this week accused three licensed gas fitters of improperly installing gas boiler and vent system equipment in their home.

Richard Mallett Jr., 49, of Woodsville, and Philip Poirier, 28, of Corinth, are each charged with two felony counts of negligent homicide and one felony count of reckless conduct alleging that they negligently, recklessly and improperly installed heating equipment that cycled exhaust gases back into the home, where the gases reached fatal levels.

The indictment said Mallett and Poirier installed the “exterior vent pipe such that it extended past the roof’s overhang, leaving it vulnerable to snow and/or ice damage and/or blockage.”

They also installed the vent terminal through a hole from the old vent system, though it was not compliant with the “manufacturer-required height for snow load” in the area, the indictment said. They also were negligent in using only one screw, rather than three as called for, at an elbow joint connecting interior and exterior piping, according to the indictment.

Adam Vigent, 51, of North Haverhill, also was charged with two felony counts of negligent homicide, accusing him of directing the improper installation of the equipment. Vigent visited the site and developed the installation plan used by Mallett and Poirier, the indictment said.

A message seeking comment was left for Vigent. Mallett and Poirier could not be reached for comment. It was not known if any of them had lawyers.

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