River-death father 'warned children's mother'

Gabrielle Grady Gabrielle died in hospital days after the incident

A father told the mother of his two children to say "goodbye" before driving them into a river in Worcestershire, a court has heard.

Christopher Grady denies murdering Gabrielle, five, and attempting to kill Ryan, six, by driving them into the River Avon on 11 February last year.

Gabrielle died in hospital three days later, while her brother survived.

Birmingham Crown Court heard the 42-year-old, of no fixed address, was separated from their mother Kim Smith.

The court heard she telephoned Mr Grady on 11 February after concerns that the children had not arrived at school after staying the night at his house.

'Screaming and wailing'

Mr Grady warned her the children "are never going to school again", the jury heard.

Prosecutor Graham Reeds QC told the court that Mr Grady said: "Be outside your house, you've got 10 seconds to say goodbye to your kids, and then they are dead'.

"He said Kim had 10 seconds to say goodbye.

"She remembers him shouting 'river' and then accelerating away as she made an unsuccessful grab to try and open the door to get the children out of the car."

The children were heard by witnesses "screaming and wailing" from the back seat of the car as their father drove towards a field next to the river in Evesham, the court was told.

Mr Reeds said a man in the field said Mr Grady "floored" the accelerator pedal "and made straight for the river".

He said neither child had learned how to swim.

Start Quote

If a person drives his children into a river on a freezing cold day in February - well, what else can they intend but to kill them?”

End Quote Prosecutor Graham Reeds QC

Gabrielle was rescued by police divers through the sunroof two hours later.

A pathologist said her death was caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain due to total immersion in cold water.

Mr Reeds said a number of handwritten notes were found in the car after it was pulled from the water, including one addressed to Miss Smith which read: "You led me to this, my kids with me now."

Mr Grady, a self-employed welder and blacksmith, apparently told doctors treating him afterwards that he "had enough" of Miss Smith "trying to take my kids away".

The court was told he had been evicted from his home after falling into arrears over the rent and owed the landlord of his business premises almost £3,000.

He had also threatened to kill himself and the children on a previous occasion.

After the vehicle was retrieved from the River Avon, it was examined and nothing in the was found that might have made it go into the river, the jury heard.

Mr Reeds said: "The prosecution say the cause was a deliberate and settled decision by the defendant to kill himself and his children by driving into the river.

"He says he didn't intend to harm either of them, but the prosecution say his actions speak for themselves.

"If a person drives his children into a river on a freezing cold day in February - well, what else can they intend but to kill them?"

The trial continues.

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