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Police prepare evidence for possible prosecution over death of girl in inflatable trampoline tragedy

PUBLISHED: 14:36 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 20:00 31 January 2019

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

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

Courtesy of the Littleboy Family

Police investigating the death of a three-year-old who was thrown from an inflatable trampoline say they are close to submitting a file so that possible prosecution measures can be considered.

Ava-may Littleboy, three, who was killed when an inflatable trampoline exploded in Gorleston.Ava-may Littleboy, three, who was killed when an inflatable trampoline exploded in Gorleston.

However, today concerns were raised over the length of time the ongoing investigation may take and the extra strain that will put on the girl’s family.

Ava-May Littleboy died seven months ago while playing on a trampoline in Gorleston. The three-year-old’s death on the sands shocked and bewildered the seaside community and sent ripples of concern across the country, with some calling for a ban on all inflatables.

In the days after the tragedy on July 1 a man and woman in their 40s, from Great Yarmouth, were questioned on suspicion of gross negligence manslaughter and released under investigation.

But Norfolk Police has now confirmed that a file is soon “due to be submitted” to the Crown Prosecution Service who would consider the evidence for any prosecution.

But industry insiders say it could yet take “months or years” for the family to find out if there was a criminal case to answer after their little girl went to the beach and never came home.

One month on, the flowers and toys left in memory of Ava May Littleboy at Gorleston beach. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYOne month on, the flowers and toys left in memory of Ava May Littleboy at Gorleston beach. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Joe Chalk of PIPA, an inspection scheme set up by the inflatable play industry, said operators were more proactive than they had ever been following recent deaths.

In the case of Summer Grant who died in Essex it was found the bouncy castle had not been anchored properly and the couple who set it up are now serving three years in prison for “taking the most monumental risk” with children’s lives.

Ava-May’s case was more unusual in that the trampoline was a sealed unit which was generally more rarely used.

Mr Chalk said: “The Harlow incident took two years and those people are now in prison.

“There is no indication into how long it will take.

“It could be another couple of months, it could be another couple of years. It is really down to the police in Norfolk.

“It is very frustrating because it has been a very long time and it is horrible for the family involved.

“It is still ongoing and we do not know of a completion date.”

He said most inflatables had a constant air flow and the sealed trampoline in use at Gorleston was “uncommon.”

Without a full and definitive account, he said the industry was doing all it could to raise standards while they awaited the outcome of the case.

With the Summer Grant verdict coming around the same time as the Ava-May tragedy there was a call to ban bouncy castles, he said, but with 23m users playing on inflatables every year without incident the figures compared well with other industries.

MORE: A month on from Ava-May Littleboy tragedy, Gorleston deals with ‘cloud of sadness’

Before the two cases there had been no reported deaths for many years and it is a legal requirement for every unit to have an annual test.

A spokesman for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) refused to be drawn over time scales but said their thoughts remained with the family of the child.

A statement said: “HSE continues to support the police-led investigation. We’ve also issued a note to operators and industry inspectors of inflatable devices reminding them of the relevant, freely available HSE guidance.”

A spokesman for Norfolk Police said: “We are continuing to work with the HSE and a file is due to be submitted to the CPS who will consider the evidence for any potential prosecution.”

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service which decides on prosecutions and prepares cases for court said it could not comment while the investigation was still in the hands of the police. A second pre-inquest review is scheduled to take place at Norfolk Coroner’s Court in Carrow House, Norwich, on February 11.

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