A FOUR-STAR hotel was fined 40,000 yesterday after two guests died from Legionnaires Disease - including a woman from Barry.

Five guests were struck down by the disease after eating food from a buffet unit at the hotel in late 1999 and early 2000.

Barry nurse Linda Johnson, aged 52, died, as did Gwent businessman Philip Roberts, aged 59. Another three guests contracted the disease but survived.

A court heard the outbreak at the Copthorne Hotel in Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff, originated in a humidifier in the buffet unit. It sprayed a fine mist over food to keep it looking fresh and tasty - but instead infected the hotel dining room with the disease.

Prosecutor Stephen Linehan said: "The bacteria occurred because humidifiers in the unit were installed without the safety features being used."

The Copthorne Hotel itself has also pleaded guilty to health and safety charges.

The company was fined 40,000 with 15,000 costs.

Judge Christopher Pitchford said: "The seriousness of this case was the absence of any reasonable steps to be aware of the risk of Legionnaire's disease.

"The equipment was perfectly safe if properly installed. But the installers never properly spelled out the risks."

The buffet unit was supplied by Lancashire based Link Unit Engineering.

Link Unit managing director Kevin Kempen, 48, of Southport, Merseyside, admitted failure to educate himself on the procedures for avoiding Legionnaire's Disease. He was fined 7,500 with 2,500 costs.