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Woman running funfair where toddler died noticed trampoline had ‘a lot of air’, inquest hears

PUBLISHED: 15:46 10 March 2020 | UPDATED: 19:10 10 March 2020

Ava-May Littleboy, who died after being thrown from a trampoline in Gorleston. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Littleboy family

Ava-May Littleboy, who died after being thrown from a trampoline in Gorleston. PHOTO: Courtesy of the Littleboy family

Archant

A woman running a funfair quickly switched off a fan inflating a trampoline after noticing it was already full and had a lot of air, an inquest into the death of a toddler has heard.

People gather on Gorleston beach to mark the one week anniversary of the tragic event leading to the death of Ava-May Littleboy.
Byline: Sonya Duncan
Copyright: Archant 2018People gather on Gorleston beach to mark the one week anniversary of the tragic event leading to the death of Ava-May Littleboy. Byline: Sonya Duncan Copyright: Archant 2018

Ava-May Littleboy was three years old when she suffered a head injury and died in hospital after being flung from the trampoline on Gorleston beach in Norfolk in July 2018.

The inquest into her death heard evidence on Tuesday (March 10) from Giselle Johnson, director of Johnson Funfairs, the company which operated the park known as Bounce About.

Mrs Johnson said she was walking back to a shed at the funfair when she noticed the fan inflating the trampoline was still on.

'I ran back to the shed and turned it off. In my mind the equipment had a lot of air,' she said.

She also said she was worried the fan needed to be turned off quickly.

Senior Coroner for Norfolk, Jacqueline Lake, asked: 'Why did it need to be turned off quickly?'

Mrs Johnson said: 'Because in my mind it was already full, it was already ready.'

She was in the shed when she heard the explosion, the inquest heard.

She said when she looked outside she did not imagine it was the trampoline.

Mrs Johnson told the inquest at Norfolk Coroner's Court, sitting at the Mercure Hotel in Norwich, she had started working at the company 10 years ago.

She was involved in ordering equipment for the company and with her husband would carry out research before buying equipment.

Her husband spoke good English and he would complete the orders, the inquest heard.

Mrs Johnson said the equipment was checked every morning and then every 15 minutes throughout the day.

On June 26, a few days before Ava-May's death, a company carried out an inspection of the funfair's equipment, including the trampoline.

Mrs Johnson said a man from the company took his shoes off and jumped on the trampoline to test it.

'He shook my hand. I asked him if everything was okay. He said everything was fine,' she said.

Ms Lake put it to Mrs Johnson that an inspection report noted the trampoline was 'found to be firm'.

Mrs Johnson declined to answer the question.

Earlier, the coroner had explained to the witness and jury that Mrs Johnson was lawfully entitled to not answer any question if it might incriminate her and the jurors were not to infer anything from that.

Ms Lake had also told to the jury why the inquest would not cover the reason why the trampoline exploded.

She said scientific examination of the remains of the trampoline had been carried out to establish why it had exploded but the available evidence would not be capable of assisting the jury in finding a conclusion.

She also said that further scientific investigation of the remains of the trampoline could have been commissioned, but it might still not explain why 'this particular trampoline exploded on the day it did, in the way it did, in the circumstances it did'.

Ava-May was at the beach with her parents and extended family, from Lower Somersham in Suffolk, when she was taken to play on the inflatables.

Witnesses described hearing a loud bang and seeing her flung into the air before falling on the sand.

Members of the public, a lifeguard and paramedics tried to revive the toddler but she died of a head injury.

The inquest is expected to last for nine days, concluding next week.

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