A man who left a five-year-old boy alone at a water park for over two hours has been jailed for his manslaughter today (Wed 20 Dec).
Paul Smith was sentenced to seven-and-a-half years in prison at Birmingham Crown Court for his role in the death of Charlie Dunn – the son of Smith’s partner Lynsey Dunn – who drowned in Leicestershire in July 2016.
Lynsey Dunn was also given an eight month prison sentence, suspended for two years, today for child cruelty offences against Charlie on other occasions.
The court heard how Charlie was seen by eyewitnesses at Bosworth Water Park playing on his own throughout the afternoon of his death. Smith made no effort to supervise Charlie and did nothing to ensure his safety when playing near or in the water.
Charlie was found drowned in the water by three boys playing in one of the lakes. They pulled him from the water, bystanders tried to resuscitate him and he was taken to hospital but was pronounced dead.
The incident that led to Charlie’s death followed a series of other incidents that had raised concerns about the way in which Dunn and Smith looked after the children in their care.
On 5 December, during the early stages of the trial, Smith pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Charlie Dunn by gross negligence. Dunn pleaded guilty to two counts of child cruelty. Smith also pleaded guilty to witness intimidation and motoring offences, as he repeatedly drove whilst disqualified.
Linsey Farnsworth, of the CPS, said: “Charlie drowned and died as a result of grossly negligent parenting by someone who was supposed to make sure he was safe.
“Paul Smith accepts he had been responsible for Charlie’s welfare at the water park that afternoon and that Charlie’s death was a result of his failure to care for him.
“The CPS presented evidence, including eye witness accounts, of how he had failed to supervise Charlie for long periods over the course of the afternoon, leaving him to play on his own near the water, even though he could not swim.
“In the face of this evidence, Smith pleaded guilty after the start of the trial. We presented evidence that Lynsey Dunn’s neglect of Charlie and another child amounted to cruelty, and were satisfied that her guilty pleas reflected the extent of her offending.
“Charlie’s death has had a profound effect on other members of his family. Our thoughts and sympathies are with them.”
Notes to editors:
- Linsey Farnsworth is a Senior Crown Prosecutor from the CPS East Midlands Complex Casework Unit
- Paul Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence, two counts of driving without a licence and one count if intimidating a witness. He was sentenced to five years and two months for manslaughter; two years for witness intimidation and four months for driving while disqualified. These sentences run consecutively to each other.
- Lynsey Dunn pleaded guilty to two counts of cruelty to a childin relation to two separate incidents. She was sentenced to four months for each of these counts, to be served consecutively, suspended for 24 months. She was also given a rehabilitation activity requirement of 20 days, to be completed within 12 months.