Boss of Sheffield bed firm admits failing to discharge duty under safety laws after baby boy '˜choked to death'

The boss of a Sheffield company, which designed a cot in which a seven-month-old baby '˜choked to death' has admitted failing to discharge an employer's general duty.

By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 24 October, 2018, 12:23

During a two-week trial at Leeds Crown Court, jurors heard that Oscar Abbey's parents found his body after he got his head stuck while trying to crawl through a gap in the bed on November 3 2016.

Craig Williams, the owner of the company which sold the bed to Charlie and Shannon Abbey, had been on trial accused of gross negligence manslaughter.

The bed seven-month-old Oscar Abbey was in when he got his head stuck in the holes and choked to death and Craig Williams.

But the jury was asked to return a verdict of not guilty on this charge on Wednesday, after the defendant, of Park View Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, admitted failing to discharge an employer's general duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act and a count of fraud.

During the trial, the court heard that the Abbeys had bought the bed through Playtime Beds Ltd, which was owned by Williams, 37, for £655, including delivery.

Craig Williams.

John Elvidge QC, prosecuting, said the defendant had been the '˜controlling mind' behind the Sheffield-based firm.

The company made bespoke, MDF beds in a range of shapes, the jury heard.

Speaking about the night of Oscar's death, Mr Elvidge said: "During the course of the night, he wriggled his body through the holes at the front of his cot bed.

"His head was too big to fit through.

The bed seven-month-old Oscar Abbey was in when he got his head stuck in the holes and choked to death.

"In effect, he choked to death. He was starved of oxygen."

In a statement read to the court, Mr Abbey, 24, described finding his son trapped face-down in the front of the cot.

"I instantly realised he'd gone," he said.

"It looked like he'd tried to crawl out backwards but his head was stuck."

In her statement, Mrs Abbey, 23, said she woke up and "heard Charlie shouting and screaming 'He's not breathing'.

"I ran to the landing and Charlie was holding Oscar in both arms."

Williams was granted bail until Friday, when he will be sentenced alongside employee Joseph Bruce, 30, of Kimberworth Park Road, Rotherham, who also admitted fraud.