A landlord who admits manslaughter after a seven-year-old boy was electrocuted in his pub garden swapped ‘banter’ with his punters about the lethal fusebox, a court heard.
Harvey Tyrrell was killed by a massive shock when he sat on a wall lamp and touched a metal railing while playing with his friend, jurors heard.
He collapsed when the power surge ‘flowed through his body’ as horrified drinkers ran to help him at the King Harold in Romford, Essex.
Colin Naylor, 73, an electrician with 50 years experience, is accused of manslaughter and failing to fit the premises with safe lighting.
Pub landlord David Bearman, also 73, has admitted causing little Harvey’s death and stealing electricity from an unmetered supply while he ran the premises, jurors heard.
A proper check of the pub’s fuse box would have revealed the entire breaker panel was not properly earthed, prosecutors claim.
Seven-year-old Harvey (pictured) collapsed in front of his parents after sitting on the lights and touching a metal railing that electrocuted him, jurors were told at Snaresbrook Crown Court
Snaresbrook Crown Court heard the current was caused by Naylor’s shoddy work installing a circuit that left lights in a stretch of the terrace ‘live with electricity.’
Giving evidence today, customer Gary Robinson told jurors that the lights in the pub ‘tripped’ on a weekly basis before the tragedy.
Bearman ignored health and safety regulations, dodged his duty to seek planning permission for building projects and ‘didn’t really care’ about the dangers in the pub, the court was told.
On one occasion the punter saw Bearman emerge from the cellar with an injury on his arm after he touched the breaker panel with his fingers and it ‘blew’ him ‘across the cellar,’ jurors heard.
Colin Naylor (right), 73, is accused of manslaughter and failing to fit safe lighting at the King Harold Pub in Romford, Essex, where Harvey Tyrell died. Pub landlord David Bearman (left) has already pleaded guilty to gross negligence manslaughter and stealing electricity last year
Fuse box ‘sparked’ when lights were turned on, court hears
The pub manager begged Bearman to fix the electrics after plug sockets began ‘melting’ and the fuse box ‘sparked’ when she tried to turn on the lights, the court heard.
Bearman had wanted to get patio lamps fitted before the World Cup in order to cram as many punters as he could into the garden, jurors were told.
Giving evidence today, manager Kirsty Beard told jurors the landlord would often wait days before responding to problems flagged by his staff.
Weeks before the tragedy, the circuit panel flared when Kirsty tried to turn on the garden lamps, jurors heard.
She passed the news on to Bearman, via her partner, and the landlord promised he would fix them, the court was told.
Asked what happened when Bearman was alerted to problems in the pub, the manager said: ‘If it was the weekend he might not turn up* he’d then deal with it on the Monday.’
Detailing the alleged catalogue of hazards, Ms Beard went on: ‘We did have it before where the extension leads melted, we did tell Dave and he just got new extension leads.’
She added: ‘[In] mid to late August a couple of the lights had been knocked over…then that same night when we went to turn on the outside lights it sparked.
‘The fuse sparked and it wouldn’t click on.’
‘There was a spark at that box?’ Duncan Penny QC, prosecuting, asked.
‘Yeah, so obviously we didn’t turn them on.
Naylor was hired to fit the garden lamps after Bearman decided he wanted them up and running in time for the 2018 World Cup, the court heard.
The trial continues.
But the boss ‘seemed to think it was all a bit of a joke’ and laughed with his customers seated around the bar, the court heard.
Reading from Mr Robinson’s witness statement, defence barrister Graham Trembath QC said: ‘Danny, Gary and I stopped talking and we all looked at Dave who said words to the effect of my fingers touched the fuse box and it blew me across the [room].
‘We all began to laugh at Dave as it was ‘typical Dave’ as everything Dave touched seemed to go wrong.’
Cross-examining, the defence barrister asked Mr Robinson: ‘So I suppose a bit more banter amongst you understandably if I may say so, but so far as David Bearman was concerned did he seem to think it was all a bit of a joke?’
‘I suppose in a way yes,’ the punter replied.
Mr Robinson, who drank in the pub ‘almost every day,’ said the landlord had claimed he used to work as an electrician for Wetherspoons managing 400 to 500 tradesmen.
When the witness warned Bearman that he needed to seek building regulations for work he was doing on the pub, the landlord replied that ‘no one would ever find out,’ the court heard.
‘He didn’t really care about it I suppose was the impression you got?’ Mr Trembath asked.
‘I supposed so yeah,’ said Mr Robinson.
‘Wasn’t really bothered about building regulations, is that fair?’ the lawyer said.
‘Yeah that’s fair,’ replied Mr Robinson. ‘Taking the view that nobody would ever find out.
‘As part of any banter in relation to lights tripping and things tripping in the way you’ve described, do you remember Kirsty Beard (the manager) complaining at all to Dave Bearman that things were tripping frequently in the pub?’ the barrister asked.
‘I was aware of her complaining to him yeah,’ Mr Robinson replied.
‘To be fair that was quite a regular occurrence was it?’ Mr Trembath said.
‘It could be weekly it could be fortnightly, it wasn’t daily,’ said Mr Robinson.
‘Was he the sort of man do you think who was prone to exaggeration?’ the barrister asked.
‘I would say so yeah,’ said the witness.
‘When the lights kept tripping out that gave rise to a bit of banter pulling his leg and so on?’ Mr Tremabth asked.
‘Yeah,’ Mr Robinson said.
Harvey was found unresponsive and he was rushed to hospital, but he died just over an hour later. Pictured: Police outside the King Harold pub in Romford, Essex, after the incident
‘[You asked him about] building regulations and Dave just said no one would ever find out and he was just going to go ahead with the work, is that right?’ the QC went on.
‘Yeah that’s right,’ Mr Robinson replied.
Mr Trembath suggested that was ‘potentially a cavalier attitude towards the building regulations’.
Duncan Penny QC, prosecuting, previously said the garden lights featured ‘significant defects’, including inadequate insulation to prevent water from getting inside and a lack of proper earthing.
The prosecution previously suggested Naylor, an electrician with 50 years’ of experience, was familiar with the premises and was aware of ‘the unsatisfactory state’ of the electrics.
Harvey’s grief-stricken parents appeared in the well of the court comforting each other as Mr Robinson gave evidence from the witness box.
Police officers rushed to the King Harold pub (pictured) in Harold Wood, near Romford, Essex, following the incident at around 5.20pm on September 11, 2018 when Harvey was electrocuted
Harvey was killed by a power surge which ‘flowed through his body’ as he played with his young pal in the pub on September 11, 2018.
The pair had been tree-climbing and chasing each other around the terrace before the youngster froze when he rested on a decorative wall lamp, the court heard.
He sat motionless with his head facing upwards towards the sky before ‘slumping to one side’ and collapsing to the floor, jurors have heard.
Naylor, of Hockley Road, Rayleigh, denies gross negligence manslaughter and failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety Act.
Bearman, of Ardleigh Green Road, Hornchurch, has admitted manslaughter and stealing electricity.
The trial continues.