Inflatable trampoline inspected five days before explosion, inquest told

An inflatable seaside trampoline had been inspected five days before it exploded, throwing a little girl to her death, an inquest heard.

Ava-May Littleboy was playing on the attraction when it burst on the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea in Norfolk on July 1 2018.

Witnesses said she was sent into the air, higher than the height of a house, before landing on her face on the sand.

The three-year-old, from Lower Somersham in Suffolk, died in hospital of a head injury.

Norfolk’s senior coroner Jacqueline Lake said that equipment inspector Henry Rundle visited Bounce About, the site of the inflatables in Gorleston, on June 26 2018.

She read from his subsequent report dated July 2 2018.

“Not all available tie downs were in use, beds were found to be firm,” the report said.

It added that for all new devices “manufacturer’s information must be supplied as required”.

Giselle Johnson, director of Johnsons Funfair Limited, trading as Bounce About, was asked by Ms Lake about the inspection on June 26.

Ava-May Littleboy inquest
Ava-May Littleboy (Family/PA)

Mrs Johnson said she was aware of an inspection scheme called Adips, the Amusement Device Inspection Procedures Scheme, and said that all of the inflatables at Bounce About were examined by a company called Rundles.

She said that she was on site when Mr Rundle examined the Minions-themed bouncy castles, an inflatable slide and lastly the inflatable trampoline.

“He examined the trampoline,” she said.

“He looked around it, he jumped on top of it, he took his shoes off first, he jumped on top, got off, came in my direction, he shook my hand.

“I asked him if everything was fine, he said everything was fine so I said ‘you can send me the invoice later and then we can sort out the documents’.”

Mrs Johnson said that, unlike the bouncy castles and slide on the site, the trampoline had a “valve you close” once it was inflated.

“It’s almost like a lid, like closing a bottle,” she said.

Coroner Ms Lake asked: “When inflating the trampoline, how do you know when the trampoline is fully inflated?”

After a warning from the coroner that she may incriminate herself with her answer, Mrs Johnson said: “Sorry, I prefer to not answer the question.”

Mrs Johnson, who was assisted in court by a Portuguese interpreter, also declined to answer a question about whether there was a gauge on the trampoline that says when it is inflated.

The series of questions that she declined to answer included who ordered the inflatable trampoline and when.

Mrs Johnson said she “looked after the park itself, how the toys are set up, who’s going to work with me”.

She said she had been working there for 10 years and her husband Curt Johnson “looks after the paperwork side of things”.

Mrs Johnson said that a daily log was started on the advice of environmental health after someone fell off the rodeo bull and broke their arm in a separate earlier incident, and that equipment was checked every 15 minutes while it was in use.

Mrs Lake previously told jurors that evidence will not include the reason why the inflatable trampoline exploded.

She said that scientific analysis of the remains of the trampoline was “capable of confirming that the trampoline did explode but not why it exploded”.

“Further scientific investigation of the remains of the trampoline could have been commissioned but that would have involved a delay, would have carried a high cost and most pertinently of all might well still not have provided why this particular trampoline exploded in the way it did, on the day it did in the circumstances it did,” said Ms Lake.

“That’s why I decided on balance this line of inquiry shouldn’t be pursued further.”

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