Two fairground workers who failed to adequately anchor a bouncy castle that blew away with a seven-year-old girl inside it have been jailed for three years each for gross negligence manslaughter.
Summer Grant died after a gust of wind lifted the inflatable from its moorings and sent it “cartwheeling” 300 metres down a hill at an Easter fair in Harlow, Essex, an earlier trial at Chelmsford Crown Court heard.
William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby Thurston, 26, were both found guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.
The couple, of Whitecross Road, Wilburton, near Ely, Cambridgeshire, were also found guilty of a health and safety offence following the incident on March 26 2016.
Prosecutors said the defendants 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.
A yellow Met Office weather warning was in place on the day of the incident, two days before Storm Katie was due to arrive.
Sentencing the Thurstons, Mr Justice Garnham said the couple “took the most monumental risk with children’s lives by continuing to allow children on the bouncy castle” after they decided to close the big slide, “and that risk-taking cost Summer her life”.
He also called on the Health and Safety Executive to take the steps necessary to make it compulsory for fairground operators to have proper wind speed measuring equipment.
Summer’s father Lee Grant told the trial he turned to see the bouncy castle in the air after he heard a scream, and said “my daughter’s in there”.
He said he gave chase but could not catch the inflatable.
Summer was rescued from within the bouncy castle and taken to hospital where she died from her injuries.
Reading a victim impact statement at Chelmsford Crown Court on Friday, Grant said: “When Summer died, I felt as if I died too. I felt as if I had nothing left to live for because she was my beautiful angel.”
Summer’s mother Cara Blackie said: “I never thought that my Summer playing and having fun in the bouncy castle would end her young life.”
She described how before Summer’s funeral, she painted her daughter’s nails blue – her favourite colour – and put her glittery shoes in the coffin – the ones that Summer wanted to wear on her first night out.