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5 December 2017, 16:46
The stepdad of a 5-year-old from Tamworth - has pleaded guilty to to his manslaughter by gross negligence - after he drowned in a waterpark.
Paul Smith, 36, had denied any wrongdoing in relation to the death of Charlie Dunn but changed his plea part of the way through the Birmingham Crown Court trial, on Tuesday.
The jury had heard how a group of other children pulled Charlie Dunn from a lagoon after Smith was allegedly seen smoking and heard saying: "For f***'s sake, we're ready to go. I don't know where he f****** is."
Jurors heard Charlie, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, was found in a 1.4-metre deep lagoon at Bosworth Water Park in Leicestershire in July last year.
It can now be reported that Smith admitted witness intimidation in connection with another incident relating to Charlie, prior to the trial.
On Tuesday, Charlie's mother, Lynsey Dunn, 28, also admitted a charge of neglect in connection with her son after an incident between July 2014 and July 2016, in which she failed to supervise him when he was found in a pedal car next to a busy road.
Dunn also pleaded guilty to a second charge of neglect in relation to another youngster, who cannot be named, after an incident in the summer of 2015.
Mrs Justice Nerys Jefford said: "I will sentence both defendants on December 20."
Following the guilty pleas, the prosecution said it would not continue the case against Dunn for manslaughter.
After the hearing Dunn, who was granted bail, turned to Smith in the dock and said "call me" before blowing him a kiss as he was led down the steps to the cells by security officers.
She left court in a purple coat with the hood pulled down low to cover her face.
Opening the Crown's case on November 30, prosecutor Mary Prior QC said Charlie, who could not swim, had been "left alone in a busy park at five years old in circumstances where there was a clear and obvious risk that he might come to very serious harm leading to his death".
She said Dunn and Smith, of Caledonian, Glascote Heath, Tamworth, had shown "ingrained and entrenched indifference", adding: "This case is not about parents turning their back for a minute whilst a tragedy occurs.
"We don't prosecute parents for unavoidable tragedies, nor do we expect perfection in parenting.
"This is a gross failure to supervise not for seconds, and not for a few minutes, but for protracted periods of time in circumstances where the child was exposed to danger."
After the hearing, Detective Inspector Nikki McLatchie, the deputy senior investigating officer from Leicestershire Police, said: "There were up to 1,000 people at the park that day, people who we knew would be able to provide us with the vital information to help our investigation into what happened to Charlie.
"Witness testimony showed that Charlie was left alone on numerous occasions, despite him not being able to swim.
"Smith was looking after Charlie at the park, and his failure as a parent came with the most tragic consequences and ultimately led to his death."
She added: "I would like to thank all those who came forward to help with our investigation, and while it won't bring Charlie back, hopefully the guilty plea will bring some comfort to all those who knew him."