Garden light installation 'might not have caused' boy's death, court hears
- Credit: CPS
The electrical fault that killed a seven-year-old boy “could have originated from a different circuit” than the pub garden light he was sat on, a court heard.
Schoolboy Harvey Tyrrell was fatally electrocuted when he sat on an outdoor light at the King Harold pub, in Harold Wood, while holding a metal railing with his hand on September 11, 2018.
The pub’s electrician Colin Naylor, 74, installed the lights in June of the same year and denies manslaughter by gross negligence.
His defence barrister Graham Trembath QC, appearing via video link at Snaresbrook Crown Court today (February 15), asked jurors to consider the defective lights may not have caused young Harvey’s death.
In his closing speech, Mr Trembath referred to evidence heard during the trial that the lights were not switched on at the time of the tragedy as a “goose-bump moment”.
“There was that [goose-bump] moment when Mr Mellor volunteered in his evidence that the lights were not illuminated,” he said.
“From our point of view, it is somewhat alarming, in a criminal case of this seriousness, when the allegation is criminal liability of the death of another human being, something can come out just like that.”
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He added: “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.”
He went on to say that the evidence suggested it was “probable” the electrical fault that caused the fittings on the garden lights to be live was not connected to the pub’s distribution board, known as DB1A.
Mr Naylor, from Rayleigh in Essex, worked at the pub for three months between April and June 2018, earning £150-a-day.
He told police in an interview that the state of the fuse box in the cellar [DB1A], which the lights were connected to, had caused him to “raise his eyebrows” because it was “untidy”.
The pub’s then landlord David Bearman - Mr Naylor’s brother-in-law - also carried out repairs on the lights weeks before Harvey’s death.
Bearman, of Ardleigh Road in Romford, has already pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence and will be sentenced in due course.
Mr Trembath said: “We don’t know the extent of that work, those repairs and what exactly Mr Bearman did and didn’t do to the light circuit after Mr Naylor left.
“We know he must have done something but we don’t know what he did.”
Mr Trembath asked the ten-person jury to consider that the fuse box in question was in fact properly earthed when Mr Naylor had worked at the pub, something the defendant did not check but later admitted he should have done.
He said: “Is it possible that DB1A was still earthed in late August 2018?
“Is it possible that the defect that caused this tragic accident came from a circuit other than the lighting circuit, the garden lights?
“Is it reasonable to expect Colin Naylor could have predicted David Bearman would have disregarded the need to have the installation checked and certified when finished?”
Mr Trembath urged the jury to find Mr Naylor not guilty of manslaughter, as well as a second charge of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Jurors were expected to retire to deliberate on their verdict this afternoon or tomorrow morning.
The trial continues.