The mother of tragic tot Alfie Lamb who was crushed to death by a car seat broke down in the dock today after she was found guilty of child cruelty.
A jury at the Old Bailey cleared Adrian Hoare of manslaughter, instead finding her guilty of an alternative charge but were unable to reach a verdict on boyfriend Stephen Waterson, the adopted son of former Tory minister Nigel Waterson.
Waterson was cleared of manslaughter and the CPS now has seven days to decide whether he will face a retrial.
The court heart Hoare, 23, failed to prevent 25-year-old Waterson from squashing Alfie in the footwell of his Audi convertible with his seat in February last year.
A jury at the Old Bailey cleared Adrian Hoare (pictured left) of manslaughter, instead finding her guilty of an alternative charge of child cruelty. The were unable to reach a verdict on boyfriend Stephen Waterson (right), the adopted son of former Tory minister Nigel Waterson
Alfie Lamb (pictured above) died three days after he was crushed in the rear footwell of a car
Afterwards, Hoare and Waterson lied to police about what happened.
The jury did find Waterson guilty of intimidation of a witness in the case, while Hoare was also found guilty of common assault on another witness.
The defendants had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.
On February 1 last year, the defendants had gone shopping for cushions in Sutton, accompanied by Alfie, Emilie Williams, 19, Marcus Lamb, 22, and another young child.
Adrian Hoare and Stephen Waterson
Hoare, 23, from Gravesend, Kent
- Guilty of child cruelty
- Guilty of common assault of a witness
- Pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice
Waterson, 25, from Croydon, London
- Guilty of intimidation of a witness
- Pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice
Jurors were shown CCTV of Alfie running to keep up with his mother moments before he was put in the car for the journey back to Croydon, south London.
It was alleged nightclub worker Waterson became annoyed at Alfie’s crying and twice moved his front passenger seat into him as he sat at his mother’s feet.
Jurors heard the maximum space in the foot well was 30cm, and, at the touch of a button, that could be reduced to just 9.5cm.
Waterson, who is 5ft 7in tall, initially pushed his front seat back to give himself more leg room, according to Ms Williams, who is the sister of his ex-girlfriend.
Alfie screamed for his ‘mummy’ but Hoare just slapped him and told him to ‘shut up’, said unqualified driver Mr Lamb, who was Alfie’s cousin.
By the time they arrived at Waterson’s home in Croydon, south London, the boy had collapsed and stopped breathing.
As medics desperately tried to revive him, Waterson fled the scene and Hoare spun a web of lies, claiming she had been in a taxi.
Alfie, nicknamed ‘Little Tarzan’ by the defendants, died from crush asphyxia three days later.
Adrian Hoare (pictured above with her son Alfie) has been found guilty of child cruelty. The CPS now has seven days to decide whether to pursue a retrial against Waterson (right)
Meanwhile, Waterson gave officers a false name and false statement and sold the Audi.
He allegedly threatened to make Hoare and the other witnesses ‘disappear’ if they did not stick with their fake stories.
Hoare eventually broke her silence and told her half sister Ashleigh Jeffrey in a taped conversation handed to police.
But Waterson blamed Mr Lamb, who he regarded as a step brother, for being a ‘grass’ and put his foot on his head during a violent assault in Crystal Palace Park which was filmed on his mobile phone.
Jurors were told Waterson was a controlling womaniser who used his family connections to ‘powerful people’ to control and manipulate people.
Nightclub worker Stephen Waterson, 25, allegedly became ‘annoyed’ at Alfie Lamb’s cries and twice pushed his chair into the boy during a journey back to his home in Croydon
The Audi convertible car in which three-year-old Alfie Lamb is alleged to have been crushed while in the rear footwell behind the front passenger seat
Hoare eventually broke her silence and told her half sister Ashleigh Jeffrey in a taped conversation handed to police
He also had a violent temper with three previous convictions for attacking an ex-girlfriend and his sister’s husband.
Giving evidence, he denied he would hurt a child and said he moved his seat back once by up to an inch.
It was suggested on his behalf that Hoare must have done something to cause Alfie’s injuries.
Prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC told jurors both played a part in Alfie’s death, saying Hoare ‘fundamentally and fatally’ failing to act.
Mr Atkinson said: ‘When he started to cry, when he said he did not have enough room, when he coughed as if he was about to be sick, when he was screaming, when she could see he did not have enough room.
‘All she needed to do was pick him up and she didn’t and he is dead.’
Responding to the verdict, Scotland Yard’s Detective Chief Inspector Simon Harding said: ‘He was a vulnerable three-and-a-half-year-old who had his life in front of him. He had no-one to care for him on that day.’
Mr Harding added: ‘Adrian Hoare, as a mother, has the same responsibilities as any other mother who is looking after a child, especially of that age as it’s paramount she looks after their safety and their wellbeing. It’s clear from her actions on that day she really did not have concerns.’
Adrian Hoare’s troubled Gravesend childhood
Adrian Hoare, 23, from Gravesend, Kent
Hairdresser Adrian Hoare, 23, had a troubled childhood in Gravesend, Kent, dividing her time between a mother with drug and alcohol problems and her father.
At the age of 15 she left home and by the age of 18 gave birth to her son, Alfie Lamb.
The 5ft 2in freelance hairdresser lived with her then partner, Richard Lamb, who was 15 years her senior.
In 2015, after they split up, Lamb became violent and set light to Hoare’s flat while she and the then baby Alfie were out, the court heard.
Lamb was jailed for three years and Hoare moved to Blackpool for a ‘new start’, which was where she met Stephen Waterson in 2016.
Hoare admitted she was not the ‘perfect’ mother to her son but denied abusing or slapping him.
But prosecutor Duncan Atkinson QC said she ‘fundamentally and fatally’ let her son down.
Alfie Lamb was nicknamed by his mother as her ‘little Tarzan’, ‘little noodle’ and ‘fat pants’.
He was born on May 13 2014 at Medway Hospital in Gillingham, Kent.
The following year, his father Richard Lamb split up with his mother Adrian Hoare and set fire to their flat while they were out. He was later jailed for three years for arson.
By early 2018, Alfie was living with Hoare and her new partner Stephen Waterson in Croydon, south London.
Alfie was three years and eight months old, weighed two-and-a-half stone and was 3ft tall when he died on February 1 last year.
Just minutes before he collapsed in the footwell of Waterson’s Audi convertible, the blue-eyed, blond-haired boy was captured on CCTV trotting beside his mother.
The typically ‘happy smiley’ child was forced to run so his little legs could keep up on the shopping trip to buy cushions for Waterson’s new flat.
Marcus Lamb, 22, was the cousin of Alfie and connected to Waterson as the son of his biological mother’s boyfriend.
Asked how Hoare had treated Alfie during the shopping trip, he said: ‘Quite bad, to be honest. If he tripped up she would drag him up and scream at him.’
But, according to Hoare, Alfie always ran about and was ‘like any normal three-and-a-half-year-old boy’.
‘He could be naughty. He would try to climb about. He had a good imagination,’ she said.
Following his death, Hoare’s half-sister, Ashleigh Jeffrey, raised funds for Alfie’a funeral costs.
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