Landlord of Ferry Inn at Horning escapes jail after bouncy castle found unsecured in days after Summer Grant died

The unsecured bouncy castle at the Ferry Inn, Horning

The unsecured bouncy castle at the Ferry Inn, Horning - Credit: Archant

Less than a week after Norwich girl Summer Grant lost her life playing at a fair in Essex a prohibition notice was handed to the Ferry Inn at Horning when council officers found its bouncy castle totally unsecured.

Landlord of the Ferry Inn Ian Chinn. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Landlord of the Ferry Inn Ian Chinn. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Warning he had created a 'serious risk of death', magistrates in Norwich almost sent landlord Ian Chinn straight to prison this morning.

55-year-old Chinn, of King Street in Great Yarmouth, admitted two counts of failing to ensure the health and safety of children using the play equipment at his pub on March 31 and April 1 this year.

A young boy playing on the equipment, which included a Wendy House and double decker bus, became caught on a loose screw in March 31. His mother was so concerned she carried out her own audit of the equipment, emailing photographs to North Norfolk District Council. Environmental health officer James Windsor attended the next day when a catalogue of health and safety issues were found, including loose screws, exposed electrical wiring, fall and suffocation hazards.

Damaged hoops meant for securing the bouncy castle at the Ferry Inn, Horning

Damaged hoops meant for securing the bouncy castle at the Ferry Inn, Horning - Credit: Archant

'Of great concern in this case was the bouncy castle was not anchored to the ground in any way,' said prosecutor Cara Jordan. 'Hoops from which it could be anchored were so badly damaged they were unusable. Some were no longer even hoops - they were rotted. 'Mr Windsor was extremely concerned there was nothing preventing the bouncy castle from blowing across the beer garden, and he instructed Mr Chinn to turn off the compressor straight away so it would be unusable to children.'The consideration it was possible for the bouncy castle to blow away wasn't mere speculation as less than a week before the visit there was a very sad case in which a girl from Norfolk at a fair in Essex lost her life because a bouncy castle wasn't sufficiently anchored.'


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The bouncy castle was shut down immediately. In interview, Chinn said he had bought the inflatable on eBay for use by toddlers, and had not asked for it to be inspected before putting it to use.

'Mr Windsor found many examples of screws sticking out where children could injure themselves and was concerned about the structural integrity of the equipment,' added Ms Jordan.

Exposed electrical wiring at the play area at The Ferry Inn, Horning

Exposed electrical wiring at the play area at The Ferry Inn, Horning - Credit: Archant

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'He was extremely concerned the equipment presented a significant and immediate risk to children using it.'

Mitigating for Chinn, Dave Foulkes told the bench he had taken on the previously derelict building with 'no previous experience of being a landlord'.

'In the pub trade things are fairly precarious and people are looking to diversify these days,' he said. 'The play area represented further diversification. It was not anything set up for commercial gain in its own right - he saw it as a community facility. The amount of responsibility that went with that rather overtook Mr Chinn. This was not his focus as he was there to run a pub. 'As soon as these matters were drawn to his attention he brought in specialists in play equipment and the bouncy castle was sent away for full renovation and repair. 'What set out with good intentions has all gone badly wrong because of the lack of compliance with the regulations.'

Hazardous gaps in netting at the play area at The Ferry Inn, Horning

Hazardous gaps in netting at the play area at The Ferry Inn, Horning - Credit: Archant

Chair of the bench Roger Marston told Chinn the case had been 'so serious we considered imprisonment'.

'The fact that the people using the area were vulnerable children, and the play area had been built up over a number of years - this is something that could have been avoided,' he said. 'Ultimately there was a risk of death in regards to strangulation, and bearing in mind what had happened the week before in Essex. 'The fact that was all over the news should have prompted you to check your own equipment.'

Chinn was given two 18 week prison sentences, to run concurrently and suspended for one year. He must pay costs of £1,670 and a victim surcharge of £115.

Summer Grant.

Summer Grant. - Credit: Archant

After the hearing, Chinn said the play area has now been approved by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents and North Norfolk District Council, and has been open all summer with no complaints.

'Everything that was asked for in that playground was done as fast as humanly possible and certificates given,' he said. 'It has been open ever since we were re-inspected and have an attendant in place when the play area is in use.'

After the case Cllr Angie Fitch-Tillett, Cabinet Member for Environmental Services, said: 'This was a very serious case and we are grateful to the court for clearly recognising that fact.

The riverside village of Horning on the River Bure in NorfolkThe Ferry Inn pub.Picture: James Bass

The riverside village of Horning on the River Bure in NorfolkThe Ferry Inn pub.Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2014

'It is very important that the public have confidence that their children are safe when they are playing in such areas and we work hard to make sure that is the case.

'A particular thank you to the council officers involved in this case, who demonstrated excellent awareness as to the dangers present and reacted quickly when notified.'

Tragedy at Essex funfair when bouncy castle blew away

Summer Grant, aged seven, from Hellesdon, died at a funfair at a park in Harlow, Essex on March 26.

An inquest opening in April heard the Valley Primary School pupil was fatally injured when a bouncy castle blew away.

She was treated at the scene by paramedics but died later in hospital from multiple injuries.

Essex Police confirmed its investigation into the circumstances surrounding Summer's death, which the Health and Safety Executive is helping with, continues.

A 24-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man, both from Cambridgeshire, were arrested on suspicion of manslaughter by gross negligence following her death.

Following the tragedy, Summer's mother Cara Blackie said she was 'truly heartbroken' at the loss of her 'bright, beautiful and most loving little girl'.

Summer's father Lee Grant described her as 'the most happy, polite and beautiful girl in the world'.

In April, more than 150 people held a candlelit vigil at the park.

Dozens of flowers and tributes, including teddy bears, were placed on one of the gates at the park.

Summer's family were finally able to lay her to rest at the end of May.

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