A woman accused of manslaughter after leaving her baby granddaughter in the bath told a court she wasn’t aware the 11-month old wouldn’t be able to right herself if she slipped.
The court heard how Grenfell left her granddaughter, Chanelle Grenfell, alone in the bath temporarily. But while she was out of the room, Chanelle drowned in a little over 14 centimetres of water.
A pathologist recorded a cause of death as drowning and said that once Chanelle slipped from an upright position, she would not have been able to right herself.
While giving evidence in her defence at Truro Crown Court on Wednesday, Grenfell said she wasn’t aware Chanelle wouldn’t have been able to get back up after slipping.
Grenfell, of Forth Scol in Illogan, denies charges of manslaughter and cruelty to a person under 16 by gross negligence.
When questioned on the events of Boxing Day 2017, Grenfell told the court that after having a bath alone, she let some water out and placed Chanelle at the tap end of the bath in an upright position.
After washing Chanelle’s hair, Grenfell said she went to her bedroom to put her dressing gown on, adding that she did not believe Chanelle would be in any danger if she left the room.
When her defence barrister, Simon Laws QC, asked why, she said: “The bedroom was close to the bathroom and I could hear her. I didn’t see any wrong in it.”
Grenfell said she had only intended to be away for “a minute or two”. When asked what she did in the bedroom, she said: “I believe, when I first went in I was getting my hair wrap, like a towel but not a towel, that I put on first, then my dressing gown and then I went and sat on the bed for a minute, I don’t know how long it was.”
Grenfell said the television was “on in the background”, adding that she was away for “two or three minutes” in total.
When she was alerted to an issue in the bathroom, she rushed straight there.
“Chanelle was under the water, on her back, I grabbed her out of the water and shouted to my son who was in the bedroom,” Grenfell recalled.
Attempts were made to resuscitate Chanelle, who was taken to Royal Cornwall Hospital before being transferred to Bristol where she passed away.
During cross examination, Grenfell told prosecuting barrister Jo Martin QC that she wasn’t aware that “if she fell down she wouldn’t be able to get back up”.
Grenfell added that she knew “there’s a chance [children] could fall and drown” in the bath, and that she was aware of the possible dangers of leaving children alone in a bath.
She said that she would never have gone downstairs while children were in the bath, Grenfell said she felt safe going into the bedroom as it was so close and she could hear them.
Grenfell admitted changing the channel on the television to Emmerdale during her time in the bedroom, but said she “wasn’t watching” the programme.
“I didn’t watch it, I glanced at it,” she said.
Grenfell denied that her intention was to get fully dressed before returning to the bathroom to check on Chanelle.
She said her time in the bedroom “couldn’t have been longer” than two or three minutes, although she accepted that she could not say that for certain.
Grenfell told the court that she no longer takes baths herself and only showers, due to what had happened.
Grenfell denies the charges against her. The trial continues.