The mother of a seven-year-old boy who was killed after being electrocuted while playing in a pub garden wept in court as she said: “Our lives will never be the same.”
Harvey Tyrrell suffered a fatal shock at the King Harold pub in Romford, east London, when he touched one of the poorly installed outdoor lights on the afternoon of September 11 2018.
The pub’s owner, David Bearman, 73, of Ardleigh Green Road, Hornchurch, east London, has been jailed for nine years after previously pleading guilty to gross negligence manslaughter.
The electrician said to have installed the lighting, Bearman’s 74-year-old brother-in-law Colin Naylor, was jailed for a year after he was found guilty of failing to discharge a duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act following a trial.
Harvey’s parents Lewis Tyrrell and Danielle Jones watched proceedings from the public gallery at Snaresbrook Crown Court.
Ms Jones, from Harold Wood, in Romford, sobbed in the witness box as she read two victim impact statements about losing her “perfect seven-year-old” who “would have been 10 in a few days’ time”.
“We feel like life’s just not fair. We can’t describe how much we miss our larger-than-life, cheeky, happy, loving son. Our lives will never be the same,” she said.
“I’m so proud of Harvey. He’s had such an effect on so many. I suppose that’s down to us and our relationship to him.
“He was like our little best mate as well as our son. He still used to sleep in bed with us.”
Ms Jones said the pain of his death has not diminished after two-and-a-half years, adding: “It’s getting harder, so much so I don’t know where I get my strength from.
“Sometimes there’s days when I cry, I don’t want to get out of bed, I’m literally howling,” she said.
“We have been cheated of so much. He should still be here. He should be growing into a spoilt, bratty teenager, giving us grief.
“It just breaks my heart that I wasn’t there when he got hurt. I said: ‘Ok, love you,’ and those were my last words to him.”
Harvey had been taken to the pub by his mother to join his father and maternal grandfather and was playing in the garden with a friend when he was electrocuted.
Mr Tyrrell said in a statement he was “incredibly proud” to have been a father to Harvey, who he called “Harvey chops”.
“The day Harvey died he woke up happy and beautiful. At the end of that day, he was dead. It was so sudden we didn’t get time to say final words, to say goodbye,” he said.
“I feel like a part of me died when Harvey died, and I have never really been able to be happy since.”
Naylor’s trial heard he had installed the lighting circuit around the garden’s perimeter in June 2018 – three months before Harvey’s death.
Bearman, who himself suffered an electric shock in the pub’s basement in May 2018, leased the business from Punch Taverns from 2006 before buying the freehold for £900,000 in 2010.
The court heard environmental health inspectors had identified “numerous electrical defects” in 2009.
But the obligation to engage a “competent person” to fix the problems was “never fulfilled by Mr Bearman up and until the day of Harvey’s death,” said prosecutor Duncan Penny QC.
“He was electrocuted as a result of the unsafe installation of a lighting unit in that garden combined with a catalogue of electrical failures found in due course during the inspection of that public house by a series of experts who subsequently came to investigate,” he said.
The court heard the lights had significant defects, including a lack of appropriate insulation to prevent water getting in, and no earthing at the distribution board from which the circuit was powered.
An investigation into Harvey’s death found 12 defects at the pub which posed a risk of injury including electric shock, and 32 potentially dangerous defects, with one expert describing it as “the most dangerous thing he’s ever seen in 40 years”.
One member of staff described the electrics at the pub as “extension leads plugged into extension leads” and said the circuit would trip intermittently.
Kirsty Beard, the pub’s manager, said the lights in the beer garden had been known to spark and did not have a switch, and were instead operated from the fuse.
Naylor denied any wrongdoing, telling police in an interview that he was an electrician with 50 years’ experience and believed his work to be “first class”.
Bearman’s barrister, Neil Fitzgibbon, said his client’s guilty plea was an acceptance of “full responsibility” for Harvey’s death.
He said the father-of-three and grandfather was a “generous family man” behind the “veneer of a colourful character”, who was very close friends with Harvey’s parents and considered the boy as a relative.
“He is a broken man, consumed with guilt about what happened and has, on a number of occasions since this tragedy, tried to take his own life,” he said.
“No sentence can undo the wrong he has caused or diminish the guilt he feels and, through me, he apologises from the bottom of his heart for the grief that he has caused all of Harvey’s family… He hopes one day the family can forgive him.”