A three-year-old boy died after his mother’s boyfriend pushed his car seat back in a ‘fit of childish temper’, a court heard today.
Stephen Waterson, 25, son of ex-minister Nigel Waterson, allegedly crushed Alfie Lamb during the car journey to Croydon, South London, because he wanted more leg room or was annoyed, it was said.
Former Conservative MP Mr Waterson, 68, was at the Old Bailey with his wife Barbara Judge to hear today’s evidence.
Former minister Nigel Waterson and his wife Barbara Judge arrive at the Old Bailey today (left) where their adoptive son Stephen Waterson (right, with Nigel) is on trial for manslaughter
Adrian Hoare, 23, denies the manslaughter of three-year-old Alfie Lamb (pictured together)
Prosecutors claim Alfie’s mother Adrian Hoare, 23, failed her son ‘fundamentally and fatally’ in the car on February 1 last year.
The court has already heard during the trial that Hoare allegedly ignored her son’s cries of ‘mummy’ as he sat in the back footwell of the car, between her legs.
Waterson and Hoare are on trial at the London court accused of Alfie’s manslaughter. Today, prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said Alfie was a ‘happy, active, smiley child’.
In a closing speech, he warned jurors that they should guard against an emotional response to his death when they decide their verdicts.
He said: ‘No one is going to suggest either of these defendants wanted Alfie to die. In text messages between them they just wanted their ‘little fatty’ back, they just wanted him home.
Stephen Waterson (left), 25, allegedly deliberately pushed a car seat back against Alfie (right)
The Metropolitan Police issued this picture of the interior of the Audi convertible car involved
‘Each of them may have called him a ‘little s***’ but neither of them set out to hurt him in the way that they did.
‘The question for you is whether Alfie died because without any thought for the consequences, Stephen Waterson moved his chair back, whether because he wanted more room or because Alfie was annoying him, putting Alfie at risk, lashing out at him with his car seat in a fit of childish temper.
‘The further question is whether the person Alfie was most entitled in the whole world to rely on when that happened, and had a duty to protect him from such harm, failed him fundamentally and fatally.
‘Failed him by putting him in such a dangerous place which is why children have car seats, which is why you would never think of putting a child in a footwell.’
The lawyer told jurors they must look at whether Hoare’s failing to act was such a ‘fundamental dereliction of duty to her son’ that she too could be held responsible for his death.
He said: ‘Alfie did not have enough room to breathe and that became the case after he was in the footwell and he was compressed in that way either for a short period followed by another period but in any view long enough to cause those irreversible injuries.’
Mr Atkinson said it was not only the pathology evidence which suggested Alfie died of compression during the journey in Waterson’s Audi convertible from Sutton to Croydon.
The lawyer reminded jurors of the evidence of the other occupants of the car, Emilie Williams and Marcus Lamb.
He said: ‘Emilie and Marcus each has much to be criticised for on any view, each could have done more for Alfie by refusing to get in the car at all, by insisting on car seats, by insisting Alfie was not on the floor.
Adrian Hoare (left) and Stephen Waterson (right) are on trial for manslaughter at the Old Bailey
‘You may think their failings cannot absolve any of these defendants for their responsibility for what happened.’
Waterson’s three previous convictions for battery also indicated the defendant would ‘lash out violently’ when challenged, the court heard.
Mr Atkinson said Waterson orchestrated and developed a series of lies, all designed to protect himself and avoid blame.
‘You may think there is clear evidence of him seeking to manipulate those who were in the car with him and others, including his adopted mother, getting them to lie or blaming them,’ he said.
Waterson lied in an initial 999 call, at the hospital and again as he was quizzed about an incident in Crystal Palace Park when he allegedly put his foot on Mr Lamb’s head, accusing him of being a ‘grass’, jurors heard.
Alfie’s death came after Waterson, Hoare, her son and two others travelled in this Audi car
The prosecutor said: ‘Mr Waterson has everything to hide and everything to play for in that interview.’
On his co-accused, he said: ‘All it would have needed was for Adrian Hoare to pick him up. That’s all.
‘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.’
Mr Atkinson added that neither of the defendants had explained the expert findings about Alfie’s injuries ‘because they cannot admit what Stephen Waterson did and Adrian Hoare failed to stop’.
Hoare, who is originally from north Kent, denies manslaughter, child cruelty and common assault on Emilie Williams, who was in the car. Waterson has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and intimidation of the driver Marcus Lamb.
The couple and Williams have pleaded guilty to conspiring to pervert the course of justice by making false statements to police.
The trial continues.