Fairground couple jailed over bouncy castle death

Friday, June 15, 2018

Two married fairground workers responsible for the death of a seven-year-old girl after she was blown away in a bouncy castle they did not properly secure have been jailed for three years.

Summer Grant was killed after a gust of wind lifted the inflatable from its moorings and sent it "cartwheeling" 300 metres down a hill at an Easter fair in Harlow, Essex, an earlier trial at Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

William Thurston, 29, and Shelby Thurston, 26, were both found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.

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.

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.

Reading a victim impact statement at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, 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 described how 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 has suffered from anxiety and depression which has made everyday life very hard.