Char­lie Dunn: Step-dad gets seven and a half years

Hinckley Times - - NEWS -

THE mum and step-dad of tragic Char­lie Dunn have been sen­tenced for of­fences against him fol­low­ing his death as Bos­worth Wa­ter Park.

Paul Smith, 36, who ad­mit­ted Char­lie’s man­slaugh­ter ear­lier this month along with child ne­glect charges was sen­tenced at Birm­ing­ham Crown Court to seven years six months cus­tody.

Lynsey Dunn, Char­lies’s mum, re­ceived eight months cus­tody sus­pended for 24 months for two counts of child cru­elty through ne­glect.

Char­lie drowned while play­ing un­su­per­vised at Bos­worth Wa­ter Park where he was dis­cov­ered in the at­trac­tion’s Blue La­goon by other chil­dren.

Char­lie had been un­der­wa­ter for more than 22 min­utes be­fore boys play­ing in the lake pulled his body out from un­der the sur­face on July 23 last year.

Ear­lier this month the cou­ple pleaded guilty to var­i­ous charges four days into a man­slaugh­ter trial at Birm­ing­ham Crown Court.

The par­ents were back at the same court for sen­tenc­ing.

Pros­e­cu­tor Mary Prior told the court there had been a “his­tory of ne­glect” lead­ing up to Char­lie’s death and that the so­cial ser­vices had been in­volved with Dunn since April 2012.

Smith, mean­while, had a pre­vi­ous con­vic­tion for in­de­cent as­sault.

She said: “So­cial ser­vices had noted the poor home con­di­tions, lack of food, poor hy­giene and lack of su­per­vi­sion.

“Pro­tec­tion was in­creased when Smith be­gan co­hab­it­ing be­cause he had a sta­tus as pos­ing a risk to chil­dren.

“It’s plain Smith was ig­nor­ing any warn­ings by so­cial ser­vices.

“Char­lie Dunn didn’t die be­cause there was a few min­utes inat­ten­dance.

“Char­lie Dunn died be­cause of Paul Smith’s ar­ro­gant as­sump­tion he knew best.

“He took the view that Char­lie could fend for him­self.

“This ar­ro­gant and self-cen­tred man ig­nored many warn­ings.

As well as hav­ing pleaded guilty to man­slaugh­ter through neg­li­gence, Smith has ad­mit­ted four counts of driv­ing whilst dis­qual­i­fied in early 2017 and four counts of driv­ing with­out in­sur­ance.

In mit­i­ga­tion John But­ter­field, rep­re­sent­ing Smith, de­bated the sug­ges­tion by Mrs Prior that his client was “self­cen­tred” and said he had taken Char­lie to the park so he could have fun.

He said: “Char­lie was not his bi­o­log­i­cal child but in ev­ery way that mat­ters Paul Smith treated him as his own and Char­lie treated Paul Smith as his daddy.

“He still suf­fers griev­ously from that loss.”

Rachel Brand, rep­re­sent­ing Dunn, said her client’s case was dis­tinct from sit­u­a­tions where par­ents de­lib­er­ately harmed their chil­dren.

She said: “She is a lov­ing par­ent, al­beit in many ways an in­ad­e­quate one.

“She was de­pen­dent on any male part­ners she was with. She ap­peared to lack com­mon sense.”

Dunn, aged 28, who lived with Smith, 36, in Glas­cote Heath, Tam­worth, had no pre­vi­ous con­vic­tions and Smith had been con­victed of 28 of­fences in the past, in­clud­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence, in­de­cent as­sault, theft and bur­glary.

Sen­tenc­ing the pair, Mrs Jus­tice Jef­ford QC told them: “I do not deny you have gen­uine love and af­fec­tion for your chil­dren but there’s abun­dant ev­i­dence you were in many re­spects poor par­ents.”

She said that on the day of Char­lie’s death, Smith had been “com­pletely in­dif­fer­ent to Char­lie’s where­abouts and safety” de­spite warn­ings the pair had re­ceived from so­cial ser­vices in the past.

Mrs Jef­ford also com­mended the po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion and praised the boys who found Char­lie’s body, who were aged be­tween 10 and 12.

She said: “This must have been a hor­rific ex­pe­ri­ence for them and I take this op­por­tu­nity to praise the care those boys showed for Char­lie.”

Lynsey Dunn and Paul Smith the par­ents of five year old Char­lie Dunn

Char­lie Dunn

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