Leicester

Stepfather jailed over boy's water park drowning

Charlie Dunn Image copyright Dunn family
Image caption Charlie Dunn was pulled from the Blue Lagoon children's pool at Bosworth Water Park

The stepfather of a five-year-old boy who drowned at a water park has been jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

Paul Smith pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence over the death of Charlie Dunn.

Charlie, who could not swim, was found in a pool at Bosworth Water Park in Leicestershire on 23 July 2016.

Smith, 36, of Tamworth, denied letting the boy wander off alone for more than two hours but changed his plea during a trial at Birmingham Crown Court.

Image copyright Family Handout
Image caption Paul Smith and Lynsey Dunn from Tamworth, Staffordshire, were sentenced at Birmingham Crown Court

The boy's mother, Lynsey Dunn, 28, also of Tamworth, Staffordshire, had a charge of manslaughter dropped.

She was given an eight-month suspended sentence after she admitted neglecting Charlie in a separate incident in 2015, when a neighbour prevented him driving a toy car onto a main road.

The court was told Smith was heard swearing and blaming others after Charlie - who was placed on the child protection register in 2012 - went missing while unsupervised.

Charlie was left to "fend for himself" in a pool which had signs warning that children must be supervised.

One father who was in the pool had to explain to another parent that Charlie was not his son, Mrs Justice Jefford recounted.

The court heard Smith has 10 previous convictions for 28 crimes and was a "person of interest" to Staffordshire social services.

They had become involved with Charlie when he was 14 months old and put a child protection plan in place for him.

Mary Prior QC, prosecuting, said Smith "had a status of being a risk to children", but there was no evidence of Charlie having come to harm when the plan became effective.

Staffordshire County Council is now conducting a serious case review into Charlie's death.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lynsey Dunn pleaded guilty to neglecting a child

In sentencing, Mrs Justice Jefford said she did not doubt the defendants "had genuine love and affection for Charlie", but said Smith was "completely indifferent" to the boy's "whereabouts and safety".

"This was not a case in which there was an isolated and momentary lapse in care and supervision," she said.

The judge also praised three boys, aged 10, 11 and 12, who pulled Charlie from the pool, saying it "must have been a horrific experience for them".

Smith was sentenced to five years and two months for manslaughter, with a consecutive two-year term handed down for threatening to petrol-bomb the home of a witness.

He was also given a further four months for driving while disqualified.

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