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Fairground worker feels ‘sense of responsibilty’ for Summer Grant’s death

PUBLISHED: 13:37 02 May 2018 | UPDATED: 13:37 02 May 2018

Seven-year-old Summer Grant, from Hellesdon, who died in 2016.
Photo: supplied by Scala

Seven-year-old Summer Grant, from Hellesdon, who died in 2016. Photo: supplied by Scala

supplied by Scala

A fairground worker has told a court he feels “a sense of responsibility” for the death of Summer Grant who was playing inside a bouncy castle when it blew away.

The seven-year-old Hellesdon schoolgirl died in hospital after she was rescued from the inflatable at an Easter fair in Harlow, Chelmsford Crown Court heard.

Fairground worker William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby Thurston, 26, deny manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence following the incident on March 26 2016.

William Thurston, giving evidence on Wednesday, said he chased the bouncy castle as it went “tumbling” down a hill and came to a rest against a fence.

He said he unzipped an emergency exit, carried Summer out, placed her in the recovery position and an ambulance was called. He it as the “worst thing I’ve ever seen”.

The bouncy castle had lifted “suddenly”, he said, adding he felt a “slight sense of disbelief and I think I froze for a second” before giving chase.

Charles Bott QC, for Thurston, asked him: “Do you regard yourself as in any way to blame for the death of Summer Grant?” Thurston replied: “I do feel a sense of responsibility, yes.

“The simple fact is we could have taken the bouncy castle down sooner. Obviously now I wish we had.”

Asked if he had thought the inflatable was capable of being blown away on the day in question, he replied “no”.

He said he was aware Storm Katie was due to arrive two days later, but he thought this was “not hugely significant”.

He agreed with Mr Bott that he had been trained to observe things like “fluttering leaves on trees” to monitor weather conditions.

“Do you think the funfair you were part of had a proper system for gauging wind speed?” asked Mr Bott. “Now, no I don’t,” replied Thurston.

He said he had “no scientific way” of gauging wind speeds, and nobody had suggested to him before the incident that it would be useful to buy an anemometer.

Prosecutors say the Thurstons, of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, failed to ensure the bouncy castle was “adequately anchored” to the ground and failed to monitor weather conditions to ensure it was safe to use.

The trial continues.


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