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Man ‘crushed toddler to death with car seat for being noisy’

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A three-year-old boy died after being squashed and suffocated by an electric car seat after his mother’s boyfriend grew annoyed at the “noise and fuss” he was making, a court has heard.

The Old Bailey was told Alfie Lamb was in the rear footwell of an Audi when he was crushed “at the touch of a button” during the incident in February last year.

It is alleged that Stephen Waterson, 25, who was sitting in the front passenger seat, pushed his seat back twice in anger into the toddler.

Alfie’s mother, Adrian Hoare, 23, was in the seat behind her son and is charged with manslaughter alongside Waterson.

Driving the car was Marcus Lamb, 22, while his then-girlfriend Emilie Williams, 19, was in the back of the car sitting beside Hoare. They are due to give evidence against Waterson and Hoare.

The court heard that a pathologist found the child – who was 3ft tall and described as a “smiley boy” – died from crush asphyxia.

Duncan Atkinson QC, prosecuting, said Waterson’s seat was moved back further into the rear passenger side footwell “at a time when, as was known, Alfie was in that footwell”.

“In effect, he was squashed by the car seat and suffocated,” he said. “This movement of the seat was a deliberate action by Waterson who knew that Alfie was there and was angered by the noise and fuss that the three-and-a-half-year-old was making during the fateful car journey.

“The deliberate movement of the seat, by electrical operation by the touch of a button and involving the application of considerable force to Alfie, took place not once but twice.

“Waterson was prevailed on to move the seat forward again because it became immediately obvious that it was causing Alfie breathing difficulties.

“However, when Alfie made noise again, Waterson deliberately moved his seat back again, and kept it in that reversed position, squashing Alfie, as he again showed signs of breathing problems until he went ominously quiet.”

Mr Atkinson said Hoare had a duty of care but did “nothing” to help her son.

The court heard how both went on to lie to officers about the incident after police were called to a report of an unresponsive child in Croydon, south London, on 1 February 2018.

It was immediately apparent that the toddler had been dead for some time despite Mr Lamb carrying out CPR, the court was told.

The mother allegedly told paramedics who arrived: “We got into a taxi and put him into a child seat and he fell asleep. We tried to wake him and found him unresponsive.”

The court heard she said the taxi driver had “kicked us out” before leaving.

It was “only the beginning of the lies that she, and others, were to tell”, said Mr Atkinson.

Following the incident, the others in the car had been attacked – Williams by Hoare and Mr Lamb by Waterson, the court heard.

Waterson denies manslaughter and intimidation of Mr Lamb, and Hoare denies child cruelty, manslaughter and common assault on Williams.

Waterson, Hoare and Williams have pleaded guilty to conspiring to pervert the course of justice by making false statements to police.

The trial continues.

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