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Summer Grant trial: Fairground workers found guilty of manslaughter over Essex bouncy castle death

PUBLISHED: 14:19 09 May 2018 | UPDATED: 17:45 09 May 2018

Summer Grant, who died after the bouncy castle she was playing in blew away. Picture: ESSEX POLICE/PA WIRE

Summer Grant, who died after the bouncy castle she was playing in blew away. Picture: ESSEX POLICE/PA WIRE

Archant

A jury has found two married fairground workers guilty of the manslaughter of seven-year-old Summer Grant, who died after a bouncy castle blew away with her inside it.

The little girl, from Norwich, died in hospital after she was rescued from the inflatable at an Easter fair in Harlow on March 26, 2016.

William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby, 26, had denied manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence during a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court.

Today, a jury of seven women and five men found both defendants guilty of gross negligence manslaughter and returned a majority verdict of 10 to 2.

They were unanimous in their verdict for the health and safety charges.

The seven-year-old died in hospital after she was rescued from a bouncy castle that blew away at an Easter Fair in Harlow, Essex. Picture: FAMILY HANDOUT/PA WIREThe seven-year-old died in hospital after she was rescued from a bouncy castle that blew away at an Easter Fair in Harlow, Essex. Picture: FAMILY HANDOUT/PA WIRE

There were gasps and sobs from relatives of the defendants as the verdicts were read out in court.

Summer Grant’s mother Cara Blackie appeared tearful as she left the courtroom before the hearing had finished, while Summer’s father Lee Grant remained in the room.

The defendants, of Whitecross Road in Wilburton near Ely in Cambridgeshire, told the court that before the incident they had not thought winds were so strong that the inflatable was capable of blowing away.

Prosecutors said the couple failed to ensure the bouncy castle was “adequately anchored” to the ground.

Summer died from her injuries. Picture: SUPPLIED BY SCALASummer died from her injuries. Picture: SUPPLIED BY SCALA

They also said the pair didn’t monitor weather conditions to ensure the inflatable was safe to use.

Judge Mr Justice Garnham, delaying sentencing until a later date, said he would be “seriously considering imprisonment”.

Shelby Thurston left the courtroom in tears, while William Thurston cried as he hugged a family member.

DCI Danny Stoten, of the Kent & Essex Serious Crime Directorate, was the senior investigating officer in the case.

Speaking outside court, he said Summer’s family were “pleased and relieved” with the guilty verdicts.

“I don’t think it’s quite set in at the moment, so they’ve asked to be given some time to come to terms with this result and then they’ll be happy to speak to the media,” he added.

“The Thurstons put profit before safety.

“They had huge weight on their shoulders and that was for the safety of children, other people’s loved ones.

“They put profit first, they’ve ignored the rules and the regulations, they didn’t conduct the checks they should have conducted and sadly Summer’s lost her life.”

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