charlie dunn
Stepfather Paul Smith, left, and mother Lynsey Dunn, centre, appeared in court over the death of Charlie Dunn, centre left.

A stepfather whose five-year-old stepson died after being found submerged at a water park in Leicestershire has pleaded guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence and now faces jail.

Charlie Dunn, who could not swim, was found submerged in the 4.5ft-deep Blue Lagoon lake at Bosworth Water Park near Hinckley on 23 July, 2016.

His lifeless body was recovered from the water after three other children playing in the paddling lake felt his hair in the water while looking for a pair of swimming goggles.

The youngster had wandered off while stepfather Paul Smith and mother Lynsey Dunn were packing up the car to leave the water park.

Smith, 36, had denied any wrongdoing in Charlie's death but changed his plea part-way through his trial at Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday (5 December).

A manslaughter charge was dropped against Dunn, 28, after she admitted two counts of child cruelty relating to incidents before the water park tragedy.

This included an incident in which she failed to supervise her son when Charlie was found in his pedal car next to a busy road.

Both are due to be sentenced on 20 December.

The court heard how the pair, from Tamworth, had shown an "ingrained and entrenched indifference" towards Charlie.

Police say there were up to 1,000 people at the water park on the day Charlie was found under the water, with the youngster seen left on his own for up to two hours.

He was seen playing in the paddling pool without armbands as his mother and stepfather were packing up the car.

Smith was allegedly seen smoking and heard saying: "For f***'* sake, we're ready to go. I don't know where he f*****g is."

The schoolboy's body was eventually pulled out of the water after being found by a group of three boys, aged 10 and 11. He had been under the water for 22 minutes and died the following day.

"This case is not about parents turning their back for a moment whilst a tragedy occurs," prosecutor Mary Prior QC had said, as reported by The Hinkley Times.

"This is a gross failure to supervise, not for seconds, not for a few minutes. It is for protracted periods of time, in circumstances inevitably where children were exposed to danger."

After the hearing, Detective Inspector Nikki McLatchie, the deputy senior investigating officer from Leicestershire Police, said: "There were up to 1,000 people at the park that day, people who we knew would be able to provide us with the vital information to help our investigation into what happened to Charlie.

"Witness testimony showed that Charlie was left alone on numerous occasions, despite him not being able to swim.

"Smith was looking after Charlie at the park, and his failure as a parent came with the most tragic consequences and ultimately led to his death.

"This has been an incredibly difficult and complex case to investigate, and has involved many different forms of enquiry over the last 17 months.

"There were hundreds of people at the park that day, many of whom came to Charlie's aid, and who were understandably shaken by what happened.

"I would like to thank all those who came forward to help with our investigation, and while it won't bring Charlie back, hopefully the guilty plea will bring some comfort to all those who knew him."