Harvey, 7, died after electric shock 'flowed through his body', court hears
- Credit: PA
A seven-year-old boy was killed when he was electrocuted while playing with friend in a pub beer garden in Harold Wood, a court heard today.
Harvey Tyrrell died when an electric shock “flowed through his body” as he touched a metal railing while sitting on a defective light at the King Harold pub on September 11, 2018.
Colin Naylor, the electrician who installed the outdoor lighting in June 2018, denies manslaughter by gross negligence.
David Bearman, of Ardleigh Green Road, Hornchurch - who was the pub landlord and is Mr Naylor's brother-in-law - has previously pleaded guilty to the same charge, as well as stealing electricity. He is awaiting sentencing.
Opening the crown’s case today, prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said: “In essence, when young Harvey both touched one of the garden lights by sitting on it and took hold of some nearby metal railings it seems clear that electricity then flowed through his body, causing fatal damage.
“He collapsed to the ground in front of another boy with whom he was playing. These events were watched by a number of adults in the area who immediately went to assist him.”
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.
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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”.
Referring to the moment Harvey was electrocuted, he said: “His breathing was shallow and he was making gasping sounds like he had winded himself. I lifted up his eyelids and knew something was wrong, it looked unnatural and rolled back.”
The father of Harvey’s young friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was one of those who rushed out of the pub.
In his police witness statement read to the court, he said: “Harvey was sitting on the light when he touched the metal rail with both hands.
“He was leaning backwards with this head titled, looking up to the sky – then he just slumped motionless. I originally thought he had just fainted and moved him away from the bench into a clear area but he was not responsive.”
He gave Harvey CPR until paramedics arrived shortly after, when he attempted to demonstrate what had happened.
“I put one hand on the light and, with the other hand, I touched the metal hand rail,” his statement continued. “All of a sudden, I got a big electric shock and shouted.
“[Pub landlord] David Bearman saw this and I saw the panic in his face. He was looking at Harvey and I saw that he put his hand behind his back and touched the metal rail himself, I could see his hand flinched like he had been shocked.”
Another witness, Gary Jury, told the court he had transported the outdoor lighting system from Mr Bearman’s house to the King Harold pub before Mr Naylor installed them in the beer garden.
He was also at the scene on the evening of Harvey’s death, telling the court he attempted to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on him.
He added: “I didn’t know until the next day that he had passed.”
Mr Naylor, 73, from Rayleigh, Essex, told police in an interview that the state of the pub’s electrics had caused him to “raise his eyebrows” before he installed the lights three months before Harvey’s death.
The prosecution told the court that Mr Naylor, who has 50 years’ experience as an electrician, told Mr Bearman that he did not “want to get involved in that side of it”.
Duncan Penny QC told the jury: “You might well think that installing an outdoor lighting circuit which would be subject to the vagaries of the British weather, this defendant was under a duty to check that every appropriate and adequate safety feature was present and functioning.”
Mr Naylor also denies a second charge 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.
The two key pre-existing faults which “significantly contributed to the metal casing of the light fitting being live” on September 11, 2018, and “capable of inflicting electric shock” were the lack of appropriate insulation in the lighting circuit and the lack of earthing at the distribution board from which this circuit was powered, Mr Penny told the court.
Under health and safety regulations, pubs ought to have an annual check and be tested and inspected every five years by a competent person but no such records have ever been found for the King Harold.
Mr Penny added: “There can be no doubt that when the Health and Safety Executive came to inspect Mr Bearman's premises in September 2018 in the aftermath of these events, overall, the premises were very dangerous.”
The trial continues on Monday, January 25 at 10am.