Fairground horror bouncy castle packed into trailer before police arrived, court told

A bouncy castle that blew across a fairground with a little girl inside it was packed into a trailer before police arrived, a court heard.

Seven-year-old Summer Grant was rescued from the inflatable after it hit a tree and came to rest against a fence, but died of her injuries in hospital, a trial at Chelmsford Crown Court was told.

Fairground worker William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby Thurston, 26, both deny manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence following the incident at Harlow Town Park in Essex.

Bouncy castle court case
Fairground workers Shelby Thurston, 26, and William Thurston, 29, arrive at an earlier court hearing in Chelmsford.

Prosecutors say that the Thurtons, of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, failed to ensure that the bouncy castle was "adequately anchored" to the ground and failed to monitor weather conditions to ensure it was safe to use on Easter Saturday in 2016.

Kyle Ramm said in a witness statement that he saw the bouncy castle "flipping and spinning" down the hill towards him as he spoke to his colleague Karen Hughes at Pets' Corner city farm, where they both work, at the edge of Harlow Town Park.

"Suddenly Karen said 'oh my God' and pointed in the direction of the fair," said Mr Ramm.

"When I looked I saw a yellow dome-style bouncy castle blowing down the hill.

"It was flipping and spinning as it bounced, at least the height of an adult down the hill towards our sheep paddock."

He said it hit a fence and a tree "with some force as it had snapped a branch".

"I could see there were people from the fair chasing after it," he said. "One of them unzipped the castle before going in and coming out with a young girl.

Two fairground workers are facing charges connected to the girl's death (Essex Police/PA)
Two fairground workers are facing charges connected to the girl's death (Essex Police/PA)

"They then placed her in the recovery position and shouted 'call an ambulance'."

He said the bouncy castle was soon "totally flat", adding: "I saw people from the fair had started to load the castle up onto a trailer."

"Shortly after the castle was removed police arrived and appeared to be cross that the castle had been moved," he said.

Tommy King, who also works at Pets' Corner, told the trial on Wednesday that a "truck-type car" came over and "probably about half a dozen" people packed the inflatable away.

He said that afterwards police arrived and started cordoning off the area with police tape, placing orange cones down and taking details.

"The cones, a couple of them fell over as they were only small and the tape was just flying around in the wind," he said.

Ben Mansfield, who was at the fair with his wife and son, said it was a rainy day and that before the bouncy castle blew away he saw an inflatable slide being taken down, adding "it looked like it was being done in quite a hurry".

Aaron Cartwright, who was also at the fair, said: "It was wet and windy.

"It was just a bit of a dismal day, really."

Summer, from Norwich, had been at the fair with her father Lee Grant and other family members.

The trial continues.

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