Two Jailed Over Bouncy Castle Death
15 June 2018, 14:09 | Updated: 15 June 2018, 17:02
Two married fairground workers have been jailed for 3 years, after they were found responsible for the death of a school girl from Norwich, who died when the bouncy castle she was playing on in Essex blew away in strong winds.
An earlier trial, Chelmsford Crown court heard how 7 year old Summer Grant was killed after a gust of wind lifted the inflatable with her inside it and sent it "cartwheeling" 300 metres down a hill at an Easter fair in Harlow.
A yellow Met Office weather warning was in place on the day it happened back in March 2016.
William Thurston, 29, and Shelby Thurston, 26, of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, were both found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.
They were also found guilty of a health and safety offence.
They were sentenced to a further 12 months' imprisonment for that offence, to run concurrently.
Sentencing them, Mr Justice Garnham said the couple "took the most monumental risk with children's lives by continuing to allow children on the bouncy castle" after they decided to close the big slide, "and that risk-taking cost Summer her life".
He also called on the Health and Safety Executive to take the steps necessary to make it compulsory for fairground operators to have proper wind speed measuring equipment.
He added: "On hearing the evidence in this case, it strikes me as extraordinary in the 21st century that it should be common place in the fairground industry, as the evidence I have heard suggests it is, that inflatable play equipment should be operated and open to the public without the operators using proper wind speed measuring devices.
"I was told that adequate wind meters can be purchased for £100 or less.
"I would urge the Health and Safety Executive to take the steps necessary to make their use compulsory at fairgrounds to prevent another tragedy like that of Summer Grant."
Reading a victim impact statement at Chelmsford Crown Court today, Summer's mother Cara Blackie described how she screamed when she heard the news of her daughter's death.
Unable to continue giving the emotional statement, Ms Blackie sat down as prosecutor Tracy Ayling QC continued reading.
She said: "I never thought that my Summer playing and having fun on the bouncy castle would end her young life."
Ms Blackie said that before Summer's funeral, she painted her daughter's nails blue - her favourite colour, and put her glittery shoes in the coffin - the ones that Summer wanted to wear on her first night out.
The court heard that since Summer's death, Ms Blackie suffers from anxiety and depression which makes everyday life very hard.
In a statement read to the court Summer's father, Lee Grant, said the youngster's death has had an ongoing impact on his life.
He said: "When Summer died, I felt as if I died too. I felt as if I had nothing left to live for because she was my beautiful angel."
Mr Grant said that had it not been for his family "I would have been selfish and taken my own life just to be with her".
During the trial, Lee Grant said he turned to see the bouncy castle in the air after he heard a scream, and said "my daughter's in there".
He said he gave chase but couldn't catch it.
Summer was rescued from inside the inflatable and taken to hospital where she died from her injuries.