A suffocating toddler was told to “shut up” by his mother as he was deliberately crushed to death by her boyfriend’s car seat, a court has heard.
Three and a half year old Alfie Lamb was sitting at his mother’s feet in the rear footwell of an Audi convertible when Stephen Waterson, 25, pushed his front seat back, allegedly because he wanted to stretch his legs out.
‘We will be home soon, shut up’
In the car with Alfie on the ill-fated journey on 1 February last year was Waterson, the child’s mother (Adrian Hoare, 23), driver Marcus Lamb, 22, and his then girlfriend, Emilie Williams, 19.
In a videoed police interview, Miss Williams, who was sitting next to Hoare in the back of the car said, “Alfie was crying so much it sounded like he was choking”, but that his mother said he was fine.
“Marcus’s chair was right forward and Stephen’s chair was right back,” she said.
“Alfie was kicking the chair, asking him to move it forward.”
As Alfie cried out, he was simply told by his mother to be quiet, the Old Bailey heard.
Miss Williams described how Waterson refused to give the toddler more room “because he said he had to stretch his legs right out.”
“He had enough room but he wanted to stretch them out because his legs are quite long,” she said.
“He moved it forward once but only for a few seconds, only a little bit but it gave Alfie more room.
“Adrian just kept telling him to be quiet and they would be home soon. Like, ‘We will be home soon, shut up’.”
Both Hoare and Waterson, from Croydon, south London, are currently on trial, accused of manslaughter.
‘Pale’ and not moving
Miss Williams said Hoare told her Alfie was only crying because he was “getting himself worked up”, and when the tot went quiet, she thought he had gone to sleep, the court heard.
Williams said, “As we was pulling up, she tried to wake Alfie up.
“She told him not to be silly. She thought he was just mucking around.”
Miss Williams recalled that when Alfie was taken out of the car by Waterson, he was looking “pale” and not moving.
Threatened to lie
After finding Alfie dead, Waterson then threatened Miss Williams as he attempted to persuade her to lie about what had happened, jurors were told.
“He was telling me lots of thing,” Williams said while giving evidence via video-link.
“He said he would put me in the boot of the car and get rid of me.
“He said he would kill me.”
Williams also described how Hoare was “going along with it and helping”.
She then told the court that Hoare had slapped her cheek outside Asda after Alfie died.
“It was when Stephen’s door got kicked down by police. It only left a hand print for about half an hour,” Williams said.
A deliberate action
A pathologist found the ‘smiley boy’ died from crush asphyxia.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said, “In effect, he was squashed by the car seat and suffocated.
“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.”
Ms Hoare denies manslaughter, child cruelty and common assault on Miss Williams, while Mr Waterson has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and intimidation of Mr Lamb.
The couple, along with Miss Williams, have pleaded guilty to conspiring to pervert the course of justice by making false statements to police.
The trial is currently still ongoing.