Cambridgeshire fairground workers take the stand in child's manslaughter trial for the first time

William Thurston and Shelby Thurston
William Thurston and Shelby Thurston

A fairground employee on trial over the death of a seven-year old girl who died when a bouncy castle blew away has taken the witness stand for the first time today, Monday.

Summer Grant was playing on an inflatable Circus SuperDome when it was swept away by the wind before landing 300m away.

Summer Grant

Summer Grant

She suffered serious injuries, and died just a few hours later in hospital.

Summer, from Norwich, had gone to the Easter fair at Harlow Town Park, Essex, with her father Lee and other family on March 26, 2016.

Fairground workers William Thurston, 29, and his wife Shelby Thurston, 26, from Cambridgeshire, both deny manslaughter by gross negligence and a health and safety offence.

The pair failed to monitor the weather to make sure the inflatable was secure, prosecutors said previously.

Last week, jurors heard that the inflatable rolled up to 15 times in the air after it came off the ground.

The court also heard previously that two inflatable inspectors examined the bouncy castle after the tragic event.

The inspectors told jurors they identified a number of manufacturing failures, including a lack of anchorage points.

Shelby Thurston took to the witness stand at Chelmsford Crown Court today, dressed in black with her long blonde hair pulled back.

She told the court that the operating manual for the bouncy castle was destroyed in August 2015 in an arson attack on her family's caravan on the Channel Islands.

Mrs Thurston said: "Some youths set alight a gas bottle, turned it on full, lit a rag then rolled it under the caravan my family were staying in.

"The gas bottle that had been pushed under the caravan was under where my sister was sleeping.

"It was also where the paperwork was kept."

Jurors heard that Mrs Thurston grew up in Surrey and got 11 GCSEs at school, graded A-C.

She married William Thurston in September, 2015, at the age of 17.

The jury was told that Shelby had accompanied her father to buy the Circus SuperDome in 2014 for around £4,700.

Mrs Thurston told the court that her family had been in the fairground business for "generations".

Siobhan Grey, defending Shelby Thurston, asked about a police interview where Mrs Thurston had said her father had given her the bouncy castle.

Mrs Thurston said: "I thought he would get into a lot of trouble and I wanted to protect him."

Ms Grey said: "Why did you think he would get into trouble?"

Mrs Thurston said: "Because he wasn't there with me."

William Thurston and Shelby Thurston, both from Wilburton, Cambs, deny manslaughter by gross negligence and a breach of section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974

The trial, which has entered its third week and is presided over by Mr Justice Neil Garnham, continues.