Couple guilty of gross negligence manslaughter over girl's death

Two fairground workers have been convicted of the gross negligence manslaughter of a girl who died after a bouncy castle blew away with her inside it at an Easter fair.

Seven-year-old Summer Grant died in hospital after she was rescued from the inflatable, which was sent "cartwheeling" 300 yards down a hill by a gust of wind in Harlow, Essex.

William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby, 26, both denied manslaughter by gross negligence but were found guilty by majority verdicts of ten to two at Chelmsford Crown Court on Wednesday after more than 11 hours of deliberations.

The couple, of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, were also found guilty of a health and safety offence following the incident on March 26, 2016.

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

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.

Prosecutors had told the jury the defendants failed to ensure that the bouncy castle was adequately anchored to the ground and failed to monitor weather conditions to ensure it 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 Essex Serious Crime Directorate, who was the senior investigating officer in the case, said outside court that Summer Grant's family were "pleased and relieved" with the guilty verdicts, adding: "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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