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Parents of girl killed by exploding trampoline describe heartache after inquest

PUBLISHED: 17:55 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 17:56 19 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

The parents of a little girl who died after a inflatable trampoline exploded have spoken of their grief after an inquest jury criticised the safety management of the attraction.

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, three, was catapulted into the air before landing on her face on the sand at Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk on July 1 2018.

The trampoline was the first of its kind at the Bounce About beach funfair and the jury found that no procedure was in place to safely manage its inflation, it had not been checked by an independent third party and had no instruction manual.

After hearing the narrative verdict Ava-May’s parents called for greater awareness of the dangers of such attractions.

Chloe Littleboy and Nathan Rowe said in a statement: “If nothing else comes from this inquest we hope and pray that people see the serious risks these attractions can pose.”

Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake, summing up, said that owner Curt Johnson wanted the air-tight equipment, which was imported from China the previous year, so that consideration could later be given to putting it in the sea.

Ava-May died in hospital of a traumatic head injury.

The jury returned a narrative conclusion on Thursday following an eight-day inquest in Norwich, finding that :”Ava-May’s guardians paid for the use of a trampoline which exploded, following which she died”.

Witnesses said the youngster, from Lower Somersham in Suffolk, was thrown “higher than a house” and appeared to be unconscious before she landed.

She was at the beach with her parents and wider family.

Ava-May’s aunt Abbie Littleboy and her aunt’s friend Beth Jones took her to play on the inflatables.

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Abbie Littleboy said she heard a loud bang “like someone had set off a cannon” then saw Ava-May “flipping” through the air.

Nurse Ms Jones said that she remembered “screaming ‘catch her”’ and a funfair worker “had her arms fully out to try to catch her, but she couldn’t as it was so quick”.

The trampoline’s owner Mr Johnson claimed that he had asked a funfair worker, who was aged 15 at the time, to keep an eye on the trampoline as it inflated but the boy denied having anything to do with the trampoline on the day.

Another funfair worker, who was aged 17 at the time, lifted Ava-May onto the trampoline.

The girl said that after she lifted Ava-May on she tried to check with Giselle Johnson, director of Johnsons Funfair Limited, that Ava-May was allowed onto the inflatable but it exploded as she turned away.

Mr Rowe and Ms Littleboy said after the conclusion of the inquest that Ava-May “was a huge part of our life, in fact she was our life”.

“We’ll now never be able to teach her to ride a bike, see her off to high school, bring her friends round for sleepovers and all those other things young parents look forward to when the have children,” they said. “The things most people take for granted have been cruelly taken away from us.”

They continued: “If nothing else comes from this inquest we hope and pray that people see the serious risks these attractions can pose.

“A couple of minutes of fun for a child can end up becoming a parent’s worst nightmare, one from which you can never wake.

“We do not want to see other parents go through this pain.”

The coroner earlier told jurors that the inquest would not hear evidence as to why the inflatable trampoline exploded.

She said scientific analysis of the trampoline’s remains confirmed that it had exploded but that this analysis was not capable of showing why it exploded.

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