September 2019

Man admits crushing boy, 3, to death with car seat

A man has admitted crushing a three-year-old boy to death with his car seat.

Stephen Waterson, 26, squashed Alfie Lamb in the footwell of his Audi convertible while the boy’s mother, Adrian Hoare, looked on.

Afterwards, Waterson, the son of former Conservative minister Nigel Waterson, orchestrated a cover-up to avoid being implicated in the death.

Following an Old Bailey trial, Hoare, 24, from Gravesend in Kent, was found guilty of child cruelty and jailed for two years and nine months.

Waterson, from Croydon, denied Alfie’s manslaughter and had been ordered to face a retrial after a jury failed to reach a verdict.

On Monday, before the fresh trial, Waterson changed his plea and admitted Alfie’s manslaughter by gross negligence.

Both Waterson and Hoare had admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice by lying to police. Waterson was convicted of intimidating a witness and Hoare of assaulting another witness.

It is the first time anyone in the UK has died from crush asphyxiation as a result of an electronic car seat, police have said.

Scotland Yard’s DCI Simon Harding branded Waterson “arrogant, selfish and deeply unpleasant” and said justice had been served for Alfie.

On 15 February last year, the defendants had gone shopping for cushions in Sutton, accompanied by Alfie, Emilie Williams, 19, Marcus Lamb, 22, and another young child.

Jurors in the earlier trial were shown CCTV of Alfie running to keep up with his mother moments before he was put in the car for the journey back to Croydon, south London.

The court had heard how Waterson, a nightclub worker, became annoyed at Alfie’s crying and moved his front passenger seat into him as he sat at his mother’s feet. The maximum space in the foot well was 30cm, and, at the touch of a button, that could be reduced to 9.5cm.

When Alfie continued to moan, Waterson reversed again, saying: “I won’t be told what to do by a three-year-old,” Hoare told jurors.

By the time they arrived at Waterson’s home in Croydon, the boy had collapsed and stopped breathing. As medics desperately tried to revive him, Waterson fled the scene and Hoare spun a web of lies to protect her boyfriend, claiming she had been in a taxi.

Alfie, nicknamed “Little Tarzan” by the defendants, died from crush asphyxia three days later.

As police closed in, Waterson gave officers a false name and false statement, and sold the Audi. He threatened to make Hoare and the other witnesses “disappear” if they did not stick with their fake stories.

Hoare eventually broke her silence and told her half-sister what happened in a taped conversation handed to police.

Jurors in the first trial were told Waterson was a controlling womaniser who also had a violent temper with three previous convictions for attacking an ex-girlfriend and his sister’s husband.

Giving evidence earlier this year, he denied he would hurt a child and said he moved his seat back once by up to an inch. As part of his basis for entering a guilty plea to manslaughter, Waterson maintained he pushed the seat back only once.

Judge Mark Lucraft QC remanded Waterson into custody to be sentenced on Monday 9 September.

At the conclusion of the case, Harding said Alfie died as the result of a “selfish and cruel act”. He said: “It’s hard to imagine what sort of pain anyone would go through when you are being crushed in that way. For a three-and-a-half-year-old to be crushed by something so strong and no one helping, it’s a shocking way to die.

“Stephen Waterson has come across as a selfish, abhorrent individual who killed a three-and-a-half-year-old child and has never stood up and said what has happened and taken responsibility for the actions he performed on that day.”

The conviction had finally “given Alfie a voice”, he said, adding: “He was a vulnerable three-and-a-half-year-old who had his life in front of him. He had no one to care for him on that day. Hopefully Alfie’s voice has now spoken to say justice has been served.”

The court was told social services had been involved with Alfie before his death.

Angela Moriarty, from the CPS, said: “This was a cruel and heartless act against a defenceless young child. Alfie Lamb had been alive and well earlier in the day when he had been out shopping in Sutton. It was in the car journey back home that Waterson, with a callous disregard to Alfie’s safety, deliberately pushed his car seat back.

“Alfie had been subjected to up to 81kg of weight in a 9.5cm gap resulting in catastrophic injuries which proved to be fatal. This was a harrowing and difficult case for all those involved, but finally justice has been served for Alfie.”

 

May 2019

Alfie Lamb’s mum jailed after three-year-old boy crushed to death by car seat

A mother whose three-year-old son was crushed to death by a car seat has been jailed for two years and nine months.

Hairdresser Adrian Hoare, 24, from Gravesend in Kent, was found guilty of putting her son Alfie Lamb into harm’s way by placing him into the footwell of an Audi convertible.

Her boyfriend Stephen Waterson, 25, from Croydon, adopted son of former Government Minister Nigel Waterson, was accused of squashing Alfie by reversing his car seat into him.

The Old Bailey had heard how Alfie had collapsed on the journey back to Croydon from a shopping trip to Sutton, south London, in February last year. He died in hospital three days later.

Following a trial, Hoare was found guilty of child cruelty and assaulting Emilie Williams, who was in the car when Alfie was fatally hurt.

Hoare had also admitted plotting to pervert the course of justice in the wake of her son’s death.

Waterson faces a retrial for Alfie’s manslaughter in September.

Mr Justice Kerr jailed Hoare for two years for cruelty plus eight months for perverting the course of justice and one month for assault, all consecutive.

He told her: “This is a very sad case. You intended no harm to Alfie.

“You put him in danger by allowing him to travel in the footwell of the car.

“There was an element of deliberate disregard for Alfie’s welfare.

“I cannot ignore your own admission that you had allowed him to travel in the footwell many times.”

He said Hoare failed to tell paramedics and doctors what happened and should have disclosed “anything that might have helped him”.

February 2019

Mother found guilty of cruelty over toddler’s child seat death

A mother whose toddler was allegedly crushed by a car seat has been convicted of child cruelty and assaulting a witness, while the boy’s stepfather was found guilty of intimidating a witness in the case.

Three-year-old Alfie Lamb died from crush asphyxia shortly after a car journey with his mother, Adrian Hoare, and her partner, Stephen Waterson, a court heard.

The prosecution alleged that the latter crushed the child, who was sitting in the rear footwell at his mother’s feet, by pushing his car seat back.

Waterson, 25, denied that, saying the child, nicknamed “Little Tarzan” by the defendants, must have suffered the injuries by some other means. The jury was unable to decide on a count of manslaughter against him.

Hoare, 23, was found not guilty on the same charge.

Hoare and Waterson had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

The three had gone shopping for cushions in Sutton, in south London, on 1 February last year, along with three other people: 19-year-old Emilie Williams, 22-year-old Marcus Lamb and another young child.

The jury at the Old Bailey was shown CCTV footage of Alfie running to keep up with his mother moments before he was put in the car for the journey back to nearby Croydon.

It was alleged that Waterson, a night club worker, got annoyed at Alfie’s crying and twice moved his front passenger seat into him as Alfie sat at his mother’s feet.

Jurors heard the maximum space in the foot well was 30cm, which could be reduced to just 9.5cm at the touch of a button.

Waterson, who is 5ft 7in tall, initially pushed his front seat back to give himself more leg room, according to Williams. Alfie screamed for his “mummy”, but she just slapped him and told him to “shut up”, said Lamb, the unqualified driver and Alfie’s cousin.

By the time the group arrived at Waterson’s home in Croydon, Alfie had collapsed and stopped breathing.

As medics desperately tried to revive him, Waterson fled the scene and Hoare lied, claiming she had been in a taxi.

Waterson gave officers a false name and false statement and sold the Audi.

Alfie died three days later.

After the incident, Hoare, Williams and Waterson, who is the adopted son of the former Tory minister Nigel Waterson, lied to police about what had happened.

Each pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice, while Hoare was convicted at trial of assaulting a witness and child cruelty.

Waterson was convicted of intimidating a witness.

Waterson was alleged to have threatened to make Hoare and the other witnesses “disappear” if they did not stick with their fake stories.

Hoare eventually broke her silence and told her half sister, Ashleigh Jeffrey, in a taped conversation handed to police.

But Waterson blamed Lamb, whom he regarded as a step-brother, for being a “grass” and put his foot on his head during a violent assault in Crystal Palace park that was filmed on his mobile phone.

Jurors were told Waterson was a controlling womaniser who used his family connections to “powerful people” to control and manipulate people.

He also had a violent temper, with three previous convictions for attacking an ex-girlfriend and his sister’s husband.

Giving evidence, he denied he would hurt a child and said he moved his seat back once by up to an inch. It was suggested on his behalf that Hoare must have done something to cause Alfie’s injuries.

The prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told jurors both had played a part in Alfie’s death, saying Hoare “fundamentally and fatally” had failed to act.

Atkinson said: “When he started to cry, when he said he did not have enough room, when he coughed as if he was about to be sick, when he was screaming, when she could see he did not have enough room.

“All she needed to do was pick him up and she didn’t and he is dead.”

Responding to the verdict, Scotland Yard’s DCI Simon Harding said: “He was a vulnerable three-and-a-half-year-old who had his life in front of him. He had no one to care for him on that day.”

Harding added: “Adrian Hoare, as a mother, has the same responsibilities as any other mother who is looking after a child, especially of that age as it’s paramount she looks after their safety and their wellbeing. It’s clear from her actions on that day she really did not have concerns.”

Following the verdicts, Mr Justice Kerr discharged the jury. Atkinson asked for seven days for the Crown to decide whether to seek a retrial for Waterson on the manslaughter charge.