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Pub owner jailed over boy's electrocution death

A pub owner has been jailed after admitting responsibility for the death of a seven-year-old boy who was electrocuted in a beer garden.

Harvey Tyrrell suffered a huge electric shock when he touched “defective” lighting at the King Harold in Romford, east London, on 11 September 2018.

David Bearman, 73, pleaded guilty to Harvey's manslaughter and to stealing electricity from an unmetered supply. He was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court to nine years in prison.

The electrician who installed the lighting, Bearman's brother-in-law Colin Naylor, was jailed for a year after being found guilty of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The 74-year-old, of Hockley Road, Rayleigh, Essex, was previously acquitted of gross negligence manslaughter.

His trial had heard he had installed the lighting circuit around the garden's perimeter in June 2018, three months before Harvey died.

An investigation into Harvey's death found 12 defects at the pub which posed a risk of injury including electric shock, and 32 potentially dangerous defects, with one expert describing it as “the most dangerous thing he's ever seen in 40 years”.

Bearman, who himself suffered an electric shock in the pub's basement in May 2018, never engaged a “competent person” to fix numerous electric defects, the court heard.

“He [Harvey] was electrocuted as a result of the unsafe installation of a lighting unit in that garden combined with a catalogue of electrical failures,” prosecutor Duncan Penny QC said.

Naylor denied any wrongdoing and told police in an interview that he was an electrician with 50 years' experience and believed his work to be “first class”.

Bearman's barrister, Neil Fitzgibbon, said his client's guilty plea was an acceptance of “full responsibility” for Harvey's death and he was a “broken man, consumed with guilt about what happened”.

Sentencing the two men, Judge Martyn Zeidman QC said: “This pub was a disgrace. And as has been said sums it up, in my view, a timebomb waiting to go off.”

BBC News April 2021

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