Sunday 16 December 2018

Mother of boy (5) who drowned at water park says he 'hated water' so she didn't bring armbands, court hears

Charlie Dunn
Charlie Dunn

Brian Farmer

A woman whose five-year-old son drowned at a water park told a family court judge how she had been confident that the youngster would not go into a lagoon because he "hated water".

Charlie Dunn died after visiting Bosworth Water Park in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, in July 2016.

His stepfather, Paul Smith, of Tamworth, Staffordshire, was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in December after admitting manslaughter on the grounds of gross negligence at Birmingham Crown Court.

Charlie's mother, Lynsey Dunn, who was described by prosecutors as being of ''limited intellect'', was given an eight-month suspended sentence after admitting neglecting him in a separate incident.

More evidence relating to events surrounding Charlie's death has now emerged in a ruling by Judge Grenville Perry, who had analysed events during separate family court proceedings.

Council social services bosses with responsibility for the welfare of other children in the family had asked Judge Perry to make findings of fact about Charlie's death.

Judge Perry oversaw private hearings at a family court in Stoke-on-Trent.

The judge has outlined evidence, and his analysis of issues, in a written ruling published on a legal website.

Lynsey Dunn's son Charlie Dunn drowned in a pool at a water park. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire
Lynsey Dunn's son Charlie Dunn drowned in a pool at a water park. Photo: Aaron Chown/PA Wire

He has given permission for Charlie, Smith and Dunn to be named in media reports of the ruling.

Read More: Boy (5) who drowned at water park was on child protection register

Judge Perry said Charlie's mother had told him how she was ''confident'' that the youngster would not go into the lake because he ''hated water''.

''The family had armbands but she decided not to take them because she knew (Charlie) would not want to go in the water,'' said the judge.

''They all went into the water soon after arriving.

"She knew there was no lifeguard.

"(Charlie) at that time was wearing his Minion shorts and also a T-shirt bearing a picture of Woody of Toy Story.

''The mother was adamant that (Charlie) only went up to his ankles because he hated water, and indeed he had to be led by her by the hand to even enter the water.''

Read More: Boy (5) drowned at water park after being left to 'go off by himself', court told

He added: ''She was shocked to hear that he had been in the water.

"She could not imagine that he might have gone in the water himself.

''She wonders whether he was chased or pushed by two boys who she had heard were pulling children down in the water.

"There was, though, no evidence before me to support this hypothesis.''

The judge went on: ''In some ways it was quite sad listening to the mother's evidence about the day at the water park.

''It is inexplicable that she positively chose not to take the armbands that day, despite knowing that (they) were going to be at a water park where there are three large areas of water and (Charlie) could not swim.

''She showed no understanding that children as young as five cannot be relied on to always do what they say they are doing."

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