Owner of Sheffield firm due in court again accused of manslaughter

A man who ran a firm in Sheffield is accused of gross negligence manslaughter
A man who ran a firm in Sheffield is accused of gross negligence manslaughter

The owner of a Sheffield firm is due in court again today after a baby choked to death in a cot bed his company made.

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Craig Williams, who ran Playtime Beds Limited in Sheffield, is on trial this week accused of gross negligence manslaughter following the death of seven-month-old Oscar Abbey in November 2016.

The baby choked to death after becoming trapped in his cot bed because of the gross negligence of the designer, a jury heard yesterday.

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Williams, of Park View Road, Kimberworth, Rotherham, denies gross negligence manslaughter and fraud.

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John Elvidge QC, prosecuting, 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.

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

Mr Elvidge told the jury: "He died because the cot bed bought by his parents from the defendant's company was designed and constructed without any care or thought for the safety of the child who was sleeping in it.

"Oscar died, say the prosecution, because of the defendant's gross negligence."

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

Mr Elvidge said that a few months before Oscar died, a customer had contacted Playtime Beds complaining that the product she bought did not comply with the correct standards.

He said Williams told the woman ‘the bed is above safety standards’ and that Trading Standards were ‘happy’ with his products.

The prosecutor said: "The defendant was aware of the risks to safety presented by his designs but he chose to ignore those risks, probably in his desire to make and save money."

Mr Elvidge claimed that after Oscar's death, Williams did not stop making beds or alter his designs.

He said: "Maybe the only reasonable inference to be drawn is that he didn't care at all about the fate of those using his beds."

Mr Elvidge said an email was sent to Playtime customers read: "There's been a slight issue and the business has had to close for a couple of weeks."

The prosecutor said a new company was set up which purported to be run by one his employees - Joseph Bruce - but was still Williams' firm.

Bruce, 30, of Kimberworth Park Road, Rotherham, has admitted fraud, the jury was told.

Mr Elvidge said Playtime Beds made around three beds a week and had manufactured about 450 over three years.

The trial at Leeds Crown Court continues.