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Exploding trampoline that hurled girl to her death was first business had owned, inquest told

PUBLISHED: 12:32 11 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:11 11 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

An inflatable seaside trampoline that exploded and threw a little girl to her death was the first of its type a business had owned, an inquest 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 playing on the attraction when it burst on the beach at Gorleston in Norfolk on July 1 2018.

Witnesses said she was sent flying into the air - higher than the height of a house - before landing on her face on the sand.

The three-year-old, from Lower Somersham in Suffolk, died in hospital of a head injury.

Giselle Johnson, director of Johnsons Funfair Limited, trading as Bounce About, agreed, when asked by a lawyer, that the supplier of the trampoline is in China.

She agreed with Pascal Bates, asking questions on behalf of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, that the trampoline was one of two.

She accepted that the pair were the first sealed-unit inflatables that her husband, Curt Johnson, had.

The other inflatables ran on continuous fans, the inquest heard.

Speaking at the hearing in Norwich on Wednesday (March 11), Mr Bates asked Mrs Johnson: 'The trampoline was different (from the other equipment), wasn't it?

'With that, you put the air in then, when it's inflated, there are plugs that go in and it remains inflated but you don't have a fan running the whole time, do you?'

Mrs Johnson replied: 'Yes.'

She agreed that they had previously had 'traditional' trampolines made of fabric and springs.

MORE: Funfair worker tried to catch toddler thrown from exploded trampoline, inquest hears

Mrs Johnson accepted that the trampoline originated in China, adding: 'For a long time since we came to the beach some of our suppliers have always been from China.'

She agreed with Mr Bates that she and her husband had had dealings with the Chinese supplier 'for a number of years' before the equipment was shipped to them in July 2017.

'Had there been quality problems with a lot of the previous equipment they had supplied you?' asked Mr Bates.

After the coroner warned Mrs Johnson that she could incriminate herself with her answer, she replied: 'I prefer not to answer.'

Mr Bates asked Mrs Johnson: 'After the shipment arrived in July 2017, do you remember your husband feeling ripped off with the quality of the equipment he had been sent?'

Mrs Johnson also declined to answer that question.

An equipment inspector said in a report dated July 2 2018 that not all of the available tie-downs were in use for four of the items at the site including the inflatable trampoline, Mr Bates said.

He asked Mrs Johnson if inspector Henry Rundle had mentioned this to her during his visit on June 26 2018.

'He inspected everything and he gave me the go-ahead,' Mrs Johnson said. 'Do you think I'm crazy? To open the site to cause any problems or hurt anybody playing on those toys?'

She said she paid an inspection company to 'tell me what's safe and what's not'.

The trampoline 'exploded, it didn't fly', she said, adding that she believed it was 'held down to the floor in a way that was enough'.

She agreed with Mr Bates that her workers at the site were all aged under 18, and said she also had a babysitter there to look after her young son while she worked.

The inquest, which is being heard by a jury, continues.

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