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'I stood there screaming but couldn't cry' - mother of girl who died when inflatable trampoline exploded on UK beach tells inquest

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Ava-May Littleboy died of a head injury after being thrown from a bouncy castle on a beach
Photo credit: Norfolk Constabulary/PA Wire

Ava-May Littleboy died of a head injury after being thrown from a bouncy castle on a beach Photo credit: Norfolk Constabulary/PA Wire

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Ava-May Littleboy died of a head injury after being thrown from a bouncy castle on a beach Photo credit: Norfolk Constabulary/PA Wire

A funfair worker desperately tried to catch a little girl who died after she was thrown higher than a house when the inflatable trampoline that she was playing on exploded, an inquest heard.

Ava-May Littleboy was playing on the attraction when it burst on the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk on July 1 2018.

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Nathan Rowe (left) and Chloe Littleboy arrive for the inquest into the death of their daughter Ava-May Littleboy
Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

Nathan Rowe (left) and Chloe Littleboy arrive for the inquest into the death of their daughter Ava-May Littleboy Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

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Nathan Rowe (left) and Chloe Littleboy arrive for the inquest into the death of their daughter Ava-May Littleboy Photo credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

The three-year-old, from Lower Somersham in Suffolk, landed on her face on the sand, the hearing in Norwich was told.

She suffered a head injury and died in hospital.

Ava-May was at the beach with her parents and wider family when her aunt Abbie Littleboy and Ms Littleboy's best friend Beth Jones took her to the inflatables.

Nurse Ms Jones said that while Ava-May was on the inflatable trampoline, she heard a loud bang then saw her flipping through the air.

"She went up so high, it was higher than my house, about 20ft," said Ms Jones.

"There was a massive thud and Ava came down on her face and tummy.

"I wasn't close enough to catch her."

She said that she remembered "screaming 'catch her'" and a funfair worker "had her arms fully out to try to catch her, but she couldn't as it was so quick".

Abbie Littleboy said that the sides of the inflatable trampoline seemed "stiff", but added: "I didn't take much notice of it - I thought it needed to be like it and that it needed more pressure.

"I just assumed it was how it was meant to be."

She said she heard a loud bang "like someone had set off a cannon", then saw Ava-May in the air.

"She was just flipping," she said.

"I just remember my little niece flipping.

"Her eyes were closed and she didn't scream.

"I remember looking at her little face and I think the force that sent her up had already done something to her.

"It was like she was asleep."

Ms Jones tried to resuscitate Ava-May with the help of others on the beach before paramedics arrived.

Ms Littleboy said that another girl of a similar age to Ava-May was on the inflatable trampoline when it exploded.

She said she was told that the other child "skimmed across the sand but was okay".

Ava-May's mother Chloe Littleboy and father Nathan Rowe were on the beach some distance from the inflatables and Abbie Littleboy ran over to them.

Chloe Littleboy said, in a statement read by the coroner: "Although I was screaming I couldn't actually cry.

"I just stood there shaking and screaming."

She said she felt "out of control" and "unable to do anything".

The family were staying at a nearby holiday park and had bought Ava-May a kite and a bucket and spade that morning before heading to the beach, Ms Littleboy said.

Ava-May's father Nathan Rowe said, in a statement read by the coroner: "My heart is scattered all over that beach.

"I will never go back there as long as I live."

Jacqueline Lake, Norfolk's senior coroner, said evidence will be heard about the "acquisition of the inflatable trampoline, risk assessments carried out, working practices at Johnson Funfairs Limited and the responsibilities and roles within that business".

She said: "The evidence will not include the reason why the inflatable trampoline exploded."

The nine-day inquest, which is sitting with a jury, continues.

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