Hereford & Worcester

Evesham river death father 'loved' children

Gabrielle Grady
Image caption Gabrielle died in hospital three days after being rescued from the submerged vehicle

A man accused of driving his car into a river in a bid to murder his two children has told a jury they were his "world".

Gabrielle Grady, five, who died, spent two hours submerged in the River Avon in Evesham, Worcestershire, on 11 February 2010, the court has heard.

Christopher Grady's then six-year-old son, Ryan, was rescued.

Mr Grady, 42, who denies murder and attempted murder, said he would never harm any of his children.

'Never ever harm'

He told Birmingham Crown Court he had been taking anti-depressant medication prescribed by a doctor "probably for about the last two-and-a-half or three years".

Mr Grady said: "When my car went into the river I didn't even know the river was there.

"I was driving down a field, I was just driving down a field."

He said he was "emotionally unstable" at the time and had been having suicidal thoughts.

He was evicted from his flat in Evesham days before the incident and also had financial worries, the court has been told.

At the start of the defence in his trial, he was asked by his lawyer Timothy Raggatt QC how he felt about Ryan and Gabrielle.

Mr Grady said: "They were my world, I loved them... I had five children and I loved all of my children more than anything in the world. I still do."

Gabrielle died in hospital three days after being rescued from the submerged vehicle. Ryan was rescued by police divers.

Mr Grady said towards the end of 2009 his ex-partner Kim Smith, 37, the mother of Gabrielle and Ryan, was "trying to stop me seeing the kids completely".

'Couldn't find her'

Mr Grady, who also has three children from a previous relationship, said: "I just didn't really want to live. But I did."

He told the court he could remember little about how he ended up in the river.

Image caption The car was pulled out of the River Avon

Mr Grady said: "There was a big bang. The bang was the car... landing flat onto the river.

"I turned round to Gabby and said, 'what... have I done?'

"Ryan turned round and he said, 'something really bad dad."'

Mr Grady, who sobbed and covered his face with his hands, said: "It wouldn't matter how depressed, however I felt, I would never ever harm any of my children, never."

Asked by Mr Raggatt whether he had intended to harm Gabby, he said: "No, the closest I got to hurting Gabby was taking head lice out of her hair."

He added: "I tried to save Gabby but I couldn't find her."

He said he and Ryan had been in the boot space of the silver Vauxhall Vectra car as it started to sink but he could not find his daughter, who had been in the front passenger seat.

He told his son he had to go and find Gabby, he said.

"I thought I was looking everywhere, I did look everywhere.

"I'm underwater with my eyes open. I could feel the steering wheel... I grabbed the pedals. I looked everywhere."

'Stronger than sorry'

He said he "went down" to find Gabby "about five times" but could see little more than "brown blobs" in the murky water.

"I couldn't even see my hand in front of my face," he said.

He told the court he accepted he was "totally to blame" for Gabby's death but considered the tragedy "an accident" because he had not intended to kill her.

"I have spent the last 12 months trying to think of a word stronger than sorry and I just can't find one," he said.

Describing his state of mind before the incident he told the court he had stopped seeing friends and worked in a workshop with the doors locked.

He said: "I did think I had lost everything...I had thoughts of suicide. I did have thoughts for probably a month."

He added: "I had stopped going out, I didn't even like going down the shop. I just tried to stay away from everybody.

"I was just basically hiding away from the whole world."

Giving evidence to the court last week, Miss Smith said Mr Grady had warned her she had 10 seconds to "say goodbye" to their children before driving away, calling out the word "river".

The trial continues.

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