Saturday 15 December 2018

Fairground workers found guilty of manslaughter after girl (7) died when bouncy castle blew away

Summer Grant died after a bouncy castle she was playing in was blown away Photo: David Rose
Summer Grant died after a bouncy castle she was playing in was blown away Photo: David Rose
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Two fairground workers have been convicted of the gross negligence manslaughter of a girl who died after a bouncy castle blew away with her inside it at an Easter fair.

Seven-year-old Summer Grant died in hospital after she was rescued from the inflatable, which was sent "cartwheeling" 300 yards down a hill by a gust of wind in Harlow, Essex.

William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby, 26, both denied manslaughter by gross negligence but were found guilty by majority verdicts of ten to two at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday after more than 11 hours of deliberations.

The couple, of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, were also found guilty of a health and safety offence following the incident on March 26, 2016.

File photo dated 19/07/17 of Shelby Thurston and William Thurston at Chelmsford Magistrates Court, where they both deny manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence following an incident in which a bouncy castle blew away, killing a little girl inside it. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
File photo dated 19/07/17 of Shelby Thurston and William Thurston at Chelmsford Magistrates Court, where they both deny manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence following an incident in which a bouncy castle blew away, killing a little girl inside it. Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

There were gasps and sobs from relatives of the defendants as the verdicts were read out.

Summer Grant's mother Cara Blackie appeared tearful as she left the courtroom before the hearing had finished, while Summer's father Lee Grant remained in the room.

Prosecutors had told the jury the defendants failed to ensure that the bouncy castle was adequately anchored to the ground and failed to monitor weather conditions to ensure it was safe to use.

Judge Mr Justice Garnham, delaying sentencing until a later date, said he would be "seriously considering imprisonment".

Shelby Thurston left the courtroom in tears, while William Thurston cried as he hugged a family member.

Undated family handout file photo of Summer Grant, who died in hospital after she was rescued from a bouncy castle that blew away at an Easter Fair in Harlow, Essex. Photo: Family handout/PA Wire
Undated family handout file photo of Summer Grant, who died in hospital after she was rescued from a bouncy castle that blew away at an Easter Fair in Harlow, Essex. Photo: Family handout/PA Wire

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