The designer of a cot in which a York baby “choked to death” has been jailed for three years and four months.
Leeds Crown Court heard how the lifeless body of seven-month-old Oscar Abbey, who had got his head stuck while trying to crawl through a gap in the bed, was found by his parents in November 2016.
Prosecutors said that Craig Williams, the owner of the Playtime Beds Ltd company which sold them the cot, had given reassurances that it was suitable for children aged six or seven months.
A judge heard how the 37-year-old, of Park View Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, had continued to make beds even after Oscar’s death, and did not modify his designs.
Wiped away a tear
Prosecutor John Elvidge QC said the defendant demonstrated “an utterly indifferent attitude towards the safety of small children, even after he had been visited by police in relation to Oscar’s death”.
Williams, a father of three, had been on trial for manslaughter by gross negligence, but a jury was asked to return a not guilty verdict on this count after he admitted on Wednesday to failing to discharge an employer’s general duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act.
Having also pleaded guilty to a count of fraud, he wiped away a tear as he was jailed on Friday.
Judge Martin Spencer, sentencing, told Williams that he had a “significant responsibility” for Oscar’s death, adding:
You should bear the brunt of that responsibility for the rest of your life.
He added that the defendant had shown a “flagrant disregard” for British safety standards and committed a “wicked fraud” by continuing to sell beds following the boy’s death.
Employee admits fraud
Williams’s employee, Joseph Bruce, 31, of Kimberworth Park Road, Rotherham, was jailed for six months after admitting a single count of fraud.
During the trial, jurors heard a statement from Oscar’s father, Charlie Abbey, 24, in which he described the moment he discovered his son’s body.
He said: “I instantly realised he’d gone.
“It looked like he’d tried to crawl out backwards but his head was stuck.”
In her own statement, the boy’s mother, Shannon Abbey, 23, said: “I heard Charlie shouting and screaming: ‘He’s not breathing.’
“I ran to the landing and Charlie was holding Oscar in both arms.”