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