Cot designer pleads guilty after seven-month-old baby choked to death

Cot designer pleads guilty after seven-month-old baby choked to death

The designer of a cot in which a baby choked to death has pleaded guilty to failing to discharge the employer's general duty.

During a two-week trial at Leeds Crown Court, jurors heard how seven-month-old Oscar Abbey, from York, was found by his parents and died of positional asphyxia on 3 November 2016.

They were also told that parents Charlie and Shannon Abbey had purchased the bed from Sheffield-based Playtime Beds Ltd company.

Craig Williams, 37, the owner of the company, had been on trial for gross negligence manslaughter.

On Wednesday, the jury was asked to return a verdict of not guilty on this charge after Williams, from South Yorkshire, admitted failing to discharge an employer's general duty under the Health and Safety at Work Act and one count of fraud.

John Elvidge QC, prosecuting, said the defendant had been the "controlling mind" behind the Sheffield-based firm.

The jury heard how the company made bespoke beds in a range of shapes.

Speaking about the night of Oscar's death, Mr Elvidge 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 how Oscar had died because the £655 bunk bed, which has a gated cot below, "was designed and constructed without any care or thought for the safety of the child who was sleeping in it".

Mr Abbey, 24, described finding his son trapped face-down in the front of the cot.

He told the court: "I instantly realised he'd gone. It looked like he'd tried to crawl out backwards but his head was stuck."

In Mrs Abbey's statement, she said she had woken up to her husband's screams.

"I heard Charlie shouting and screaming, 'he's not breathing'," she said. "I ran to the landing and Charlie was holding Oscar in both arms."

She said she had ordered the bed, which features a slide, after reading positive reviews and being assured by Williams that the cot was suitable for infants aged six or seven months.

"At no point was I advised it was not suitable," she said.

Williams was granted bail until Friday, when he will be sentenced alongside employee Joseph Bruce, 30, who also admitted fraud.