A mother sat by and did nothing as her 3-year-old son was crushed to death by her partner with an electric car seat. A court heard today that Adrian Hoare, 23, was sitting in the back seat of an Audi with her son Alfie Lamb when the boy was “squashed” in the footwell by her partner, 25-year-old Stephen Waterson.
Alfie Lamb had been put into the rear footwell of the car by his mother. Waterson then allegedly pushed back the front passenger seat over Alfie twice because he was “angered” by noise the little boy was making. Waterson and Hoare claimed he had collapsed while they were in a taxi, but they both now face manslaughter charges, accused of killing Alfie on February 1 last year.
Waterson called 999 after Alfie’s death but fled before paramedics arrived and gave a false name when later questioned, jurors heard. Hoare, who stayed behind with her dead son, claimed Alfie fell asleep and then was “unresponsive”, the court heard. Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, said the toddler was fit and well when he entered Waterson’s Audi but died from “crush asphyxia” sustained during the journey through Croydon in England.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson said: It was caused by the front passenger seat of the vehicle, Waterson’s seat, being moved back further into the rear passenger side footwell at a time when, as was known, Alfie was in that footwell.
He added: Alfie was squashed by the car seat and suffocated because there was no room for him to breathe. This movement of the seat was a deliberate action by Waterson who was angered by the noise and fuss that the three-and-a-half-year-old was making during that fateful journey.
The court heard that they were in a car being driven by Marcus Richardson Croydon, south London, last February. Waterson was in the passenger seat while Hoare and friend Emilie Williams were in the back with Alfie.
Mr Atkinson said: During that car journey something happened to Alfie to compress his chest and abdomen so that he went from and active toddler, to a very seriously ill and brain damaged one. Three days later paramedics were called to their home and the boy’s mother told them they had got into a taxi and put him in a child seat where he fell asleep.
She said: We tried to wake him and found him unresponsive. The taxi driver kicked us out and f**cked off.
Narrating what transpired, Mr Atkinson said Waterson first pushed his seat back on to Alfie to try to silence him, but other passengers in the car urged him to move forward and set the boy free when it was obvious that he had hurt the boy and he was struggling to breathe.
Atkinson continued: However, when Alfie made noise again Waterson deliberately moved his seat back again, and he kept it in that reversed position, squashing Alfie as he again showed signs of breathing problems until he went ominously quiet.
Mr Atkinson said Hoare had put her son Alfie in the footwell of the backseat and failed to stop Waterson from hurting her son. He said: Given the lack of space even for a child of Alfie’s size and his obvious signs of breathing difficulties, she did nothing to help him.
He added: Alfie’s mother had a duty to protect him from avoidable harm and yet she had failed to do this by inappropriately placing a young child in the rear footwell of a moving car. She failed in any meaningful or sufficient way to address the consequences of Waterson’s actions.
Waterson, Hoare and another passenger in the car, 19-year-old Emilie Williams, have admitted lying to the police in the wake of the death. Waterson is also accused of assaulting the driver of the car, Marcus Richardson, to intimidate him when he was co-operating with the police investigation. Hoare is also accused of assaulting Ms Williams to intimidate her during an argument relating to the incident. Ms Emilie Williams is due to be another prosecution witness.
Hoare and Waterson, from Croydon, deny manslaughter but admit conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
The trial continues.