Clinical Negligence & Catastrophic Injury Solicitors
Company owner jailed following child's death.
A bed firm owner who designed a cot in which a seven-month-old baby "choked to death" has been jailed for three years and four months.
Playtime Beds Ltd, owned by Craig Williams, sold the cot bed where Oscar Abbey got stuck trying to crawl through a gap. The child’s lifeless body was found caught in the bed by his parents at their home in York on 3 November 2016.
Williams, 37, a father of three, from Rotherham, South Yorkshire, admitted a health and safety failing to discharge the employer's general duty and a fraud charge, at Leeds Crown Court. The jury was asked to return a not guilty verdict to gross negligence manslaughter.
Judge Martin Spencer said Williams had a "significant responsibility" for Oscar's death, less than a week after he started using the bed, and told him that he should: "bear the brunt of that responsibility for the rest of your life."
Williams's employee, Joseph Bruce, 31, also of Rotherham, was jailed for six months after admitting fraud.
Oscar's parents, Charlie and Shannon Abbey, paid £655 for the cot bed and prosecutor, John Elvidge QC, said Williams had assured them it was suitable for children aged six or seven months but Oscar had effectively "choked to death" after "wriggling his body through the holes at the front of his cot bed."
Mr Elvidge said Williams had demonstrated "an utterly indifferent attitude towards the safety of small children, even after he was visited by police in relation to Oscar's death.”
He had continued to make the beds and did not modify his designs. The company had sold the same cots after Oscar's death under a new company, Magical Dream Beds.
Judge Spencer said that it was pure good fortune that no other child had died. He said Williams had shown a "flagrant disregard" for adhering to safety regulations and had committed a "wicked fraud" by continuing to sell beds.
After sentencing, North Yorkshire Police said the pair were "solely motivated by money and were willing to sacrifice children's safety in the pursuit of it.” Det Supt Nigel Costello described them as "selfish and callous individuals.”
In a statement read during the trial, Mr Abbey, 24, said he found his son trapped face-down in the front of the cot. "It looked like he'd tried to crawl out backwards but his head was stuck."
Mrs Abbey, 23, described in her statement how she woke up and heard her husband "shouting and screaming: 'He's not breathing'."