Electrician cleared of manslaughter but guilty of health and safety breach
- Credit: PA
An electrician has been found guilty of a health and safety offence but cleared of manslaughter after a seven-year-old boy was electrocuted while playing in a pub garden.
Colin Naylor, 74, from Rayleigh in Essex, installed garden lights at the King Harold, as part of a three-month employment at the Harold Wood pub which ended in June 2018.
Schoolboy Harvey Tyrrell was killed when an electric shock “flowed through his body” as he grasped a metal railing while sitting on one of the defective garden lights on September 11, 2018.
Mr Naylor was found guilty of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act by 'failing to take reasonable care to limit the risk or prevent the danger of serious injury or death'.
However, a jury of 10 people at Snaresbrook Crown Court decided unanimously that he was not guilty of manslaughter by gross negligence.
Mr Naylor has been granted bail until sentencing on a date still to be determined.
Judge Martyn Zeidman told him: "A jury has unanimously and speedily found you guilty of breaching your duty.
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"The fact I'm granting you bail gives no indication to the ultimate sentence. It is a real serious breach."
The pub's then landlord David Bearman, who is Mr Naylor's brother-in-law, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence.
In a statement via the Metropolitan Police, Harvey's family said: "After two-and-a-half years of heartbreak since losing our beautiful baby boy Harvey, we are grateful to the jury for finding Colin Naylor guilty of the part he played in our precious son’s death.
"We are grateful to our community, the police and the prosecution team for all their support during our tragic ordeal. As a family we need some time to reflect on this outcome."
Young Harvey’s mum and dad, Danielle Jones and Lewis Tyrrell, were both in the courtroom as the jury were shown CCTV footage from the pub of their little boy’s final moments.
The young family had met Ms Jones’s parents, Harvey’s grandparents, and a friend for a family meal. Still in their school uniforms, Harvey and his friend could be seen running in and out of the pub. Moments later, people could be seen rushing towards the tragedy.
In a heartbreaking statement read out in court, Mr Tyrrell recalled arriving at the King Harold pub and seeing Harvey, who “ran up to him” and gave him a “kiss and a cuddle”.
The electrics in both the pub itself and the flats above led a Health and Safety Executive inspector to declare it was the "most dangerous building" he had ever seen.
The lights at the King Harold would trip regularly and its landlord David Bearman suffered an injury after being "thrown across the cellar" while working on a distribution board, the court heard.
Mr Naylor, who installed the garden lights, always insisted he had done a "first class" job while working at the pub and denied responsibility for Harvey's tragic death.
In his closing speech, his defence barrister Graham Trembath QC, appearing through a video link, told jurors that evidence heard during the trial raised doubts the defective lights were the cause of Harvey's death as they were not on at the time.
He said: "The fault that caused the fatality could have originated from a different circuit than the garden lights.
“It would have happened anyway, lights four and seven may well have played no part at all.”
Speaking after the verdict, the Met's Detective Sergeant Andy McAlister said: “As a qualified electrician, Naylor had not only the ability, but also the responsibility, to ensure that the work he completed didn’t pose a risk to those visiting the venue.
“Expert examination of the electrical system identified a variety of modifications that were far below an acceptable safety standard. Naylor made it clear in his police interview that he did not think the safety of the electrical system as a whole was his responsibility.
“The decision he made to continue with the installation, regardless of the dangerous wiring already present, cost the life of an innocent child and has devastated a family.”
Both men will be sentenced in due course.
How the Romford Recorder covered the trial