Bouncy Castle Tragedy: Thurston’s sentenced to three years

Crime / Fri 15th Jun 2018 pm30 12:26pm

TWO fairground workers, found guilty of the manslaughter of Summer Grant after their bouncy castle blew away in Harlow Town Park in March 2016 leading to the death of the seven-year-old child, have been sentenced.

William Thurston, aged 29, of Whitecross Road, Wilburton was sentenced to three years.

Shelby Thurston, aged 25, of same address, was given the same sentence.

Half of the sentence is in custody, the other half out of prison “on licence”.

Full breakdown of sentencing to come.

In a packed court room at Chelmsford Crown Court, Judge Carnham first heard impact statements from Summer’s mother and father.

The mother of Summer Grant, Cara Blackie read out an impact sentence where she described “the day my life changed”.

She described the moment she was at home in Norwich and heard that her daughter had died. She could only read part of the statement before she broke down. The rest of the statement was read out by the prosecution, Ms Ayling QC.

“How on earth could I tell my younger daughter that Summer wasn’t coming back?

She went on to describe the moment returning home with the press outside “making the experience even worse”.

“We have had good and bad days but our lives will never be the same. I am not the same person and nor is my daughter.

“I never thought my Summer playing on a bouncy castle would end her life.”

Her father, Lee Grant, also issued a statement. “When Summer died, I felt I died too. If it wasn’t for my other children I would have taken the selfish way out.

“It has ruined my life. My daughter is only seven and is still confused.

“I still have many questions regarding what happened. I have great admiration for Cara and how she keeps doing.

I miss Summer so much. She did not deserve what happened.

“These people who are responsible don’t know how we feel and never will”.

The barrister defending Shelby Thurston, Ms Gray admitted that the crime passed the custodial threshold and wanted to make clear that Thurston’s pain was nothing compared to the family.

She went on to refer to Mrs Thurston’s remorse. “Not a day goes by without thinking about what happened on March 26th, 2016.

She detailed that she had no previous convictions. A medical report detailed evidence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “A shell of a person..withdrawn and isolated”.

At that point Thurston broke down in tears.

Details of health and safety courses undertaken by Shelby Thurston in 2017 were read out.

In summation, an appeal was made to suspend Shelby Thurston’s sentence.

In mitigation for William Thurston, it was detailed that he was also of ‘good character”.

Mr Fox detailed causes of the offence including “an old fashioned approach to health and safety that seems to pervade the industry.”

“This case lacked the persistence of conduct.”

Judge Carham interjected that the practice they undertook that day was the same as they always had done.

Mr Fox concluded with another suggestion that there may be a case for a suspended sentence and with a character reference for William Thurston: “He is now a shadow of his former self.”

After a short break, Judge Carnham then issued his sentence.

We will publish his remarks shortly.

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