The ‘arrogant’ son of a former Eastbourne MP has been jailed for more than seven years for crushing his girlfriend’s three-year-old son to death with his car seat.
Stephen Waterson, 26, tried to wash his hands of any responsibility for the death Alfie Lamb and repeatedly lied to police.
He was named in a previous court hearing as the adopted son of the former government minister and politician Nigel Waterson, who was Eastbourne’s MP from 1992 until 2010.
Waterson denied manslaughter by criminal act in a first trial when a jury was unable to reach a verdict. But he pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence on the first day of his retrial.
On Thursday (November 14) at the Old Bailey judge Mr Justice Timothy Kerr told Waterson he was “manipulative, dishonest, deceitful, controlling, threatening, and sometimes violent,” as he jailed him.
The boy’s mother, 24-year-old Adrian Hoare, had already been found guilty of child cruelty and sentenced to two years and nine months.
Emilie Williams, 20, also admitted conspiring to pervert the course of justice after lying to police but was handed a five months suspended sentence and unpaid work at the same sentencing hearing.
Waterson - described by police as “arrogant, selfish and deeply unpleasant” - was jailed for seven-and-a-half years at the Old Bailey for manslaughter, perverting the course of justice by lying to police, and intimidating witnesses.
The court heard how Waterson, the son of former Tory MP Nigel Waterson, and Hoare had been shopping with her son Alfie in Sutton, south London in February last year.
Alfie, nicknamed “Little Tarzan” by the couple, was sitting in the rear footwell at his mother’s feet on the way home.
Nightclub worker Waterson, wanting more space for himself, moved back the electronically controlled seat - crushing Alfie in the rear footwell. The child began crying and choking before Waterson put the seat forward again.
Duncan Atkinson, prosecuting, told the court, “This was deliberate action by Mr Waterson who said he needed more leg room for himself.
“In other words, in blatant disregard by Mr Waterson for his life he made room to stretch out in front of the car at the expense of the breathing room for Alfie in the back.”
The court heard how in doing so he told the other passengers, Hoare, Williams, and driver Marcus Lamb, “I won’t be told what to do by a three-year-old.”
As a result the toddler was crushed, resulting in asphyxia and brain injury. By the time the trio arrived at Waterson’s home in Croydon, south London, Alfie had collapsed and stopped breathing.
The court heard Waterson made the 999 call. While paramedics desperately tried to save his life Waterson bolted while Hoare lied to police that she had been in a taxi in an attempt to protect her boyfriend.
Alfie tragically die in hospital three days later. After fleeing, Waterson later threatened Hoare and other witnesses to get them to maintain their false accounts of what happened, the court heard.
On February 18, he attacked Mr Lamb in Crystal Palace Park, south London, filming the assault on his phone.
Mr Atkinson said: “Mr Waterson held Mr Lamb to the ground by his head. He reportedly demanded to know what he had told the police and called him a grass.
“His humiliation was compounded by the fact the incident was recorded on Mr Waterson’s telephone.”
Waterson also tried to throw police off his scent by giving them a false name and getting rid of the car, selling it for just £800. Hoare eventually told her half-sister what had actually happened in a taped phone call that was given to investigators.
However, the court also heard Waterson had lied to stop himself and other passengers from getting in trouble for not using a car seat.
Tana Adkin, in mitigation for Waterson, said: “His instinct was to call for help and he rang 999.
“He called for help, but his old habits to distance himself from taking responsibility when things go wrong, those instincts resurfaced and he lied and he lied not because he knew that moving the seat had mean that Alfie couldn’t breathe and wasn’t going to ever wake up, but he lied to protect everyone in the car from the fact that Alfie wasn’t wearing a car seat.
“Mr Waterson didn’t at that time know that Alfie wasn’t ever going to wake up again. The lies he told afterwards to protect himself and others in the car were to protect himself and others because they knew Alfie shouldn’t have been in the footwell.”
She added that letters from Hoare after Alfie’s death, but before the trial, highlighted the loving relationship between Alfie and Waterson.
One letter read, “We love you too, not just you but our little munchkin who will be looking down on you and is proud of you and protecting you. I just wish none of this had ever happened.
“You are not going to lose me I know how much you loved our little Chubba he loved you just as much as you loved him. The bond you had was amazing.”
Miss Adkin said, “Whilst thoughtless, I have no doubt, and selfish, he was not deliberately malevolent or nasty towards Alfie. And he did not say anything towards that indicated he was going to hurt him.”
Jailing Waterson. Mr Justice Kerr said, “You now accept you owed a duty of care that you caused him to travel in the footwell of the car instead of a car seat and you moved your case seat back onto Alfie.
“I do not find that you were annoyed with and you moved your seat back because of annoyance. I am satisfied so that I am sure on the evidence I heard at the trial that, albeit not in anger but for or own comfort you moved the car seat back twice and not only once.”
In sentencing Emilie Williams, Mr Justice Kerr took into account her vulnerability and threats made against her. He said the fact her second child is due in nine months also convinced him that hers was “an exceptional case” and he could therefore suspend her sentence.
The court heard a statement from Alfie’s aunt, Ashley, who said, “Adrian Hoare is my sister and we’ve been very close since we were teenagers. When she had her son she had the most amazing bond with him, you could see how much they loved each other.
“Wherever she went Alfie was with her. When I met Alfie for the first time it felt different, to see their special relationship felt really amazing.
“When I heard [Alfie died] I was desperate to find out the truth of what had happened to him. Children don’t just die in a car seat.
“The biggest thing for me is that I have a son who looks so much like Alfie. I have really bad nightmares about Alfie.
“My son is now at the age Alfie was when he died. The trauma of going through the trial earlier this year was horrific. I had to give evidence.”
She said, “I felt so nervous I felt sick. I was just so very sad about the whole situation.”
Court reporting by William Janes for SWNS.