June 15, 2018

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In Court

Child bouncy castle death: fairground workers jailed

Two fairground workers who were convicted of manslaughter by gross negligence after a bouncy castle blew away with a young girl inside it have been jailed.

Seven year old Summer Grant died after the inflatable was carried 300 metres across a park in Harlow, Essex, in March 2016.

A trail was told that William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby, 26, from Cambridgeshire, failed to ensure the inflatable was “adequately anchored” to the ground.

The two were found guilty of gross negligence manslaughter last month, and were this week sentenced to three years at Chelmsford Crown Court. They were also sentenced to 12 months in prison for failing to discharge a duty of care under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act, to run concurrently.

Summer, who died of “multiple traumatic injuries to the head, neck and chest”, had been visiting Harlow Town Park with her father Lee and other relatives. She was inside the Circus Superdome attraction when it was blown away from its moorings and bounced down the park before hitting a tree.

The defendants, a married couple from Cambridgeshire, worked for Thurston’s Funfairs, a family-run business that operates funfairs across the country. The court heard how on the day of the incident the wind speeds and gusts had been increasing throughout the day, with the highest gusts in the area of 35-40mph occurring late afternoon. But the couple continued to operate the bouncy castle and did not ensure that it was safely secured to the ground.

The court heard Summer only had “a few minutes” left of her turn but Mrs Thurston decided to “let them finish their go” before taking the inflatable down.

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