Pub owner 'drilled through cables' weeks before boy was electrocuted, court told
- Credit: Met Police
The Harold Wood pub where a seven-year-old boy was electrocuted had a “catalogue of electrical issues” in the lead-up to his death, a court has heard.
Harvey Tyrrell died when an electric shock “flowed through his body” as he touched a metal railing while sitting on a defective light in the beer garden of the King Harold on September 11, 2018.
David Bearman, the pub’s landlord at the time, has pleaded to manslaughter by gross negligence. His brother-in-law, electrician Colin Naylor, denies the same charge.
The pub’s joint-manager Stuart Shirley said Mr Bearman drilled through one of the garden light’s cables while attempting to fix them two weeks before Harvey’s death, after they were "kicked over”.
Giving evidence at Snaresbrook Crown Court today, he said: “I walked over to Dave, who was kneeling by the light, and he showed a long piece of black electrical cable.
“He said ‘Christ, look what I’ve done’. I could see the cable, it was split, with a hole in the middle, and there were wires exposed.”
He said Mr Bearman was “laughing” and “chuckling” about his mistake and that he treated the incident “as if it were nothing”.
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The court was told Mr Bearman was asked to arrange the repairs after a fuse board “sparked”.
Mr Shirley’s partner and the other joint-manager, Kirsty Beard, said the garden lights did not have a switch and were operated directly from a fuse box behind the bar.
She said: “Around mid-to-late August, a couple of the lights had been knocked over. I went to switch them on, causing the fuse to spark.”
Mr Bearman carried out the repairs on the faulty lights by himself, the court was told, and that involved changing two of the lightbulbs.
It has been revealed there had been numerous electrical problems at the pub and the flats above for several years.
Mr Shirley, who lived in one of the flats, said: “I remember once one of our freezers didn’t seem to be working and it was defrosting.
“I pulled it out and the plug behind, which was connected to an extension lead, had melted into the wall.”
The lights in both the King Harold itself and the flats above, would “trip regularly”, the court heard.
A mother-of-two, Amelia Day, who lived in the other flat above the King Harold for five years said, in a witness statement, that she had suffered similar issues.
“There is a catalogue of maintenance issues, many of them electrical,” she told police. “I had numerous problems.”
She said her washing machine, in the bathroom, was connected to a plug, also discovered to have melted, in her daughter’s bedroom through a hole drilled in the wall by Mr Bearman.
Gary Robinson, a builder who was drinking in the pub on the day of Harvey’s death, told the court he had seen Mr Bearman with an injury sustained by a fuse box in the cellar some months earlier.
He said: “He was holding his left arm if I remember rightly. He said he had just given himself a shock in the cellar, got blown over and knocked his arm on a beer barrel on the wall.”
In a statement read out in court, he told police: “We all looked at Dave, who said words to the effect of, my finger touched the fuse and it blew me across the cellar.
“We all laughed because it was typical Dave, as everything Dave touched seem to go wrong.”
Another witness described the bruising to Mr Bearman’s arms and face as looking like “plastic surgery gone wrong”.
Mr Naylor, an electrician with 50 years’ experience, was employed to install the outdoor lighting ahead of the 2018 World Cup, the court was told.
His defence barrister Graham Trembath QC, appearing via video link, told the jury he disputed Mr Robinson’s claim that Mr Naylor had worked at the King Harold until August that year.
He said: “I’m going to suggest he worked from April 9th until June 27th. I suggest you are mistaken when you say it was early August.”
Mr Robinson replied: “I would say he was definitely there in early August.”
The trial continues.