Fairground worker feels 'sense of responsibility' for girl's bouncy castle death

A fairground worker has told a court he feels "a sense of responsibility" for the death of a seven-year-old girl who was playing inside a bouncy castle when it blew away.

Summer Grant died in hospital after she was rescued from the inflatable at an Easter fair in Harlow, Essex, 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.

Summer Grant death court case
Fairground workers Shelby Thurston and William Thurston deny manslaughter and a health and safety offence (Joe Giddens/PA)

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 at the bottom.

He said he unzipped an emergency exit, carried Summer out, placed her in the recovery position and an ambulance was called.

He described the incident as the "worst thing I've ever seen".

The bouncy castle had lifted "suddenly", he said, adding that 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 that Storm Katie was due to arrive two days later, but he thought this was "not hugely significant".

"I thought it was two days away, and the weather can change a lot in two days," he said.

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 - an instrument used to measure wind speed.

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.

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

The trial continues.

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