Man could be jailed after Bella Pritchard, 6, killed by falling fireplace at Beaconsfield home

Bella Pritchard

Bella Pritchard

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A MAN was warned he could face prison yesterday after a mantelpiece he fitted in a Beaconsfield home collapsed and killed a six-year-old girl two years ago.

Isabella Pritchard - known as Bella - suffered massive head injuries after the heavy stone fireplace crashed on top of her.

She was rushed to hospital where, despite medics best efforts, she was declared dead.

On Monday a judge warned Christopher Elmer that all sentencing options were open after he admitted a Health and Safety breach in relation to Bella's death.

The 39-year-old had been due to stand trial at Reading Crown Court for Bella's manslaughter by gross negligence but the Crown Prosecution Service offered no evidence.

This came after Elmer admitted failing to ensure she was not exposed to risks to her health and safety as he worked at her parents' home in Burkes Road.

Prosecutor Iain Wicks said: "Following a review of the expert evidence and new reports by the experts, the view was taken that the evidence was insufficient to establish that offence."

Bella, who attended Maltman's School for Girls in Gerrards Cross, was playing at her parents five-bedroom home when the tragedy occurred on July 7, 2012.

She was rushed to Wexham Park Hospital in Slough, where she later died as a result of her injuries.

Bella's parents today attended what should have been the first day of Elmer's trial and listened in the public gallery as his plea to the Health and Safety breach was accepted.

Judge John Reddihough told Elmer that a pre-sentence report would be prepared prior to his sentencing.

He said: "I must make it clear to you that all sentencing options remain open to the court, including a custodial sentence."

Elmer, of Goring Way, Greenford, Middlesex, was released on unconditional bail. He will be sentenced on a date to be fixed.

Mr and Mrs Pritchard declined to comment after the hearing.

At the time of Bella's death, her headmistress Joanna Pardon said: "She was a very special little girl with an infectious love of life. She will be remembered for her wonderful smile, her laughter and her caring gentle nature."

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