The mother of a seven-year-old boy who suffered a fatal shock in a pub beer garden broke down in tears as an electrician was cleared of his manslaughter today.
Colin Naylor, 74, installed outdoor lights at the ale house in June 2018 – three months before tragic youngster Harvey Tyrrell was electrocuted in the beer garden in front of a pal.
Naylor was found not guilty of gross negligence manslaughter but was convicted of failing in his duty to protect people from death and injury under the Health and Safety at Work Act by a jury of 10 in a unanimous decision.
Deliberation at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London took the jury four hours and 57 minutes.
Harvey collapsed after sitting on decorative lights while holding onto a nearby metal railing with his hand, causing electricity to “flow through his body”.
Police rushed to the King Harold pub in Harold Wood, near Romford, Essex, following the incident at around 5.20pm on September 11, 2018.
Harvey was found unresponsive and he was rushed to hospital, but he died just over an hour later.
Naylor worked at the pub for three months between April and June, earning £150-a-day for roughly 380 hours making just over £7,000.
The light fixtures are said to have had powerful stolen electricity running through the rig without proper safety earthing mechanisms, the court was told.
Jurors heard there were several points where water had fallen into the defects that only made the entire venue more dangerous.
Naylor, who worked at the pub with his brother-in-law David Bearman, is accused of “raising his eyebrows” at the state of the electrics before he proceeded to continue to install the outside lighting three months before the tragedy.
Following the death, an expert found 12 extreme defects posing a risk of injury or death including electric shock, and 32 other potentially dangerous defects.
One electrician called it the “most dangerous place” he had ever visited in 40 years.
Duncan Penny QC said: “The prosecution’s case is that, together with another man – who was the owner of the premises – this defendant, Colin Naylor, who was the electrician who installed that lighting circuit in the garden of the public house is responsible for the manslaughter of Harvey.
“The Crown’s case is that the defendant was grossly negligent in the installation of that lighting circuit and in the discharge of his duty as an electrician working at those premises to ensure safety – familiar as he was with the state of the premises in question, having worked there as he had for an extended period during the spring and the summer of 2018.
But his defence barrister Graham Trembath QC, appearing via video link, asked jurors to consider the defective lights may not have caused young Harvey’s death.
He said that jurors could not rule out the possibility that someone else had removed the earthing and caused the dangerous accident.
Bearman, the landlord of the King Harold, had previously pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter and stealing tens of thousands of pounds of electricity.
Harvey’s mum, Danielle Jones, broke down in tears after the verdict. She was supported by his dad Lewis Tyrrell and specialist police officers.
Judge Martyn Zeidman, Recorder of Redbridge, granted jurors an exemption from service for 20 years for being on a panel during the pandemic.
He said he will sentence both Naylor and Bearman at a later date.
Speaking to the parents, who attended the hearing throughout, he said: “I must pay tribute to Harvey’s loving family.
“You have sat through this case with immense and incredible dignity and strength.
“The tragedy of Harvey’s death is beyond words. This is an utter tragedy.”
Naylor faces a maximum sentence of two years in jail for his role in the tragic death.
A procedural hearing will likely take place at the same court on either Thursday or Friday, which will be prior to a Newton hearing and the sentencing hearing.
The Judge told Naylor: “This is a desperately serious matter and a very serious breach.
“You have been found guilty of breaching your duty.
“The fact I am granting you bail gives no indication to the sentence.
“I’m granting you bail because I trust you will attend on the next hearing.”