Hereford & Worcester

Evesham river plunge father guilty of murder

A father who drove his car into a river to kill his two children has been found guilty of murder and attempted murder.

Gabrielle Grady, five, died three days after spending two hours submerged in the River Avon in Evesham, Worcestershire, on 11 February 2010.

Christopher Grady's then six-year-old son, Ryan, was rescued.

Grady, 42, of no fixed address, had previously told the trial at Birmingham Crown Court that he would never harm his children.

Kim Smith, the children's mother, said the family was "robbed" of Gabrielle and was "still living with the loss and devastation caused by his actions on that day".

"What must also not be forgotten is what my son Ryan also went though on that day, not only the trauma of the events but that he also lost his sister who was also his best friend," said Ms Smith, 37.

During the trial witnesses described the moment Grady drove his car into the River Avon with his children inside.

Philippa Henley, who was walking her dog by the river, told the court: "I could hear them banging on the glass while they were going round the field and I could hear the fear in their voices.

"I was waving my arms and saying 'Don't do it'. It was like a horror movie."

Gabrielle was submerged for two hours and died three days later in hospital.

Grady told jurors that he was "emotionally unstable" at the time and blamed his ex-partner for making him "feel useless and worthless".

He had been sleeping rough in his workshop, having been evicted from his flat three days earlier.

Before adjourning sentencing until 22 March, judge Mr Justice Lindblom said he wanted to see reports about the impact of the events on Ryan.

He said: "It does seem to me that that is an aspect of the sentencing exercise which is likely to be important."

Grady, who survived after being pulled from the water by police, had warned the children's mother, Kim Smith, that she had 10 seconds to say goodbye to them before he drove into the river.

Supt Steve Cullen, senior investigating officer in the case, said: "The death of any child is an absolute tragedy and our thoughts are with Gabby and Ryan's family who are deeply traumatised and devastated at the loss of a precious young girl and the suffering her brother had to endure.

Officers' rescue

"Although today we see Christopher Grady brought to justice, this is no triumph, and does not take away the fact that a little girl has died and a little boy has undergone unimaginable suffering."

He praised Insp Sean Kent and Sgt Phil Stayte who both went into the water and helped pull Ryan to safety.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) carried out an investigation into West Mercia Police's contact with the family before Gabrielle's death.

It found that officers dealing with six previous incidents involving Grady did nothing wrong and further recommendations would not have affected the outcome of the case.

The matters raised related to how risk assessments were made and also how the officers completed the report forms.

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