Alfie Lamb death: 'Manipulative' killer of three-year-old jailed for seven and a half years

14 November 2019, 15:59 | Updated: 14 November 2019, 19:57

Stephen Waterson crushed Alfie to death using a car seat
Stephen Waterson crushed Alfie to death using a car seat. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A "manipulative" and "arrogant" man who crushed his girlfriend's son to death with a car seat has been jailed for more than seven years.

Stephen Waterson, 26, admitted to crushing three-year-old Alfie Lamb in his convertible Audi on 1 February last year.

Waterson, who was described as "arrogant, selfish and deeply unpleasant", reversed his chair into the toddler who was in the footwell behind the seat.

He later lied to police about the tragic incident and threatened his girlfriend and two others who were also in the car.

Alfie's mother Adrian Hoare, 24 and from Gravesend in Kent, was jailed in May this year for two years and nine months for child cruelty.

Waterson initially denied a charge of manslaughter by gross negligence, but changed his plea to guilty prior to the retrial at the Old Bailey in September.

Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook showing Waterson and Hoare
Court artist sketch by Elizabeth Cook showing Waterson and Hoare. Picture: PA

On Thursday, Mr Justice Kerr sentenced Waterson to five years and six months for manslaughter. He added two additional years for intimidation and 18 months for conspiring to pervert the course of justice, both the latter sentences running concurrently with each other.

The judge described the 26-year-old as "cunning, manipulative, threatening and controlling," despite accepting character references from his from his parents that he was "not all bad."

Justice Kerr said: "I do not find you were annoyed with Alfie and moved your seat back because of that annoyance."

However, he added that he was satisfied the nightclub worker from Croydon moved his chair back twice for his "own comfort."

Alfie Lamb sustained irreversible brain injuries during the car journey and died in hospital three days later.

Hoare had also admitted to conspiring to pervert the course of justice by lying to the police. She was additionally convicted of assaulting another witness, Emilie Williams.

Hoare was jailed for two years and nine months for child cruelty
Hoare was jailed for two years and nine months for child cruelty. Picture: Metropolitan Police

Pregnant barmaid Williams, 20, admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice after being threatened and "coerced" into lying to police by Waterson.

She was sentenced to five months in prison, suspended for 18 months, and 100 hours of unpaid work which is to be completed after she gives birth in January.

Alfie's death is the first recorded UK case of someone dying from crush asphyxiation as a result of an electronic car seat, police confirmed.

In mitigation for Waterson, Tana Adkin QC told the court: "Whilst thoughtless, I have no doubt, and selfish in his behaviour on February 1, he was not deliberately malevolent and nasty towards Alfie."

The toddler's aunt Ashleigh Jeffery spoke outside court, telling of the family's "devastation."

She said: "No sentence will be enough but today we finally gave Alfie a voice and justice has been done.

"He was a very happy three-year-old boy with his whole life ahead of him."

Waterson's convertible Audi where Alfie was crushed
Waterson's convertible Audi where Alfie was crushed. Picture: Metropolitan Police

She added the family would never come to terms with what happened and had been through a "very traumatic" police investigation and court trial.

"We hope that we can move forward in private with our treasured memories of Alfie," she continued.

"When I found out that Stephen had pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Alfie it was like a huge weight had been lifted but it also made it all feel so much more real.

"He could have avoided so much more upset in people's lives had he just owned up in the beginning."

In the trial, the court heard how the nightclub worker became annoyed at Alfie's crying and moved his front passenger seat into him as he sat at his mother's feet.

Hoare told jurors that when Alfie continued to moan Waterson reversed again, saying: "I won't be told what to do by a three-year-old."

By the time they arrived at the 26-year-old's home in Croydon, the little boy had collapsed and stopped breathing.

Stephen Waterson is the son of former government minister Nigel Waterson, who was elected MP for Eastbourne in 1992 and was a junior minister in John Major's government.

Happening Now