Child death on bouncy castle leads to convictions
Two fairground workers have been found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence after a bouncy castle blew away in high winds with a seven-year-old girl still inside.
Summer Grant died when the fairground castle she was playing in was picked up by strong winds and sent “cartwheeling” 300 metres down a hill at an Easter fair in Harlow, Essex, on 26 March 2016. Summer was taken to hospital but died from her injuries.
Fairground worker William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby Thurston, 26, both denied manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence following the incident.
However, a jury at Chelmsford Crown Court convicted the pair of gross negligence manslaughter following a three-week trial.
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.
Det Ch Insp Daniel Stoten, from the Kent and Essex serious crime directorate, said the Thurstons had acted “disgracefully” putting up a bouncy castle in 36mph winds.
“The Thurstons held a huge responsibility to ensure the safety of the children that used their rides.
They treated this responsibility with total disregard, putting profit before safety,” he said.
The pair were also found guilty of failing to discharge their health and safety duties.
Nicola Rutter from the CPS said: “William and Shelby Thurston failed to ensure that the bouncy castle was adequately anchored to the ground and failed to monitor the weather conditions to ensure that it was safe to have it in use.
“They denied their actions were negligent but the CPS and the police built a strong case, together with assistance from the Health and Safety Executive, and demonstrated to the jury that the Thurstons had breached their duty of care to Summer.”
Judge Mr Justice Garnham, who delayed sentencing for four weeks, said he would be “seriously considering imprisonment.”