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July 22, 2013

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Child drowned in inadequately supervised pool

An Essex leisure centre has been ordered to pay more than £190,000 in fines and costs after a child drowned in a swimming pool.

Seven-year-old Michelle Gellard died when she went swimming with a number of other children at Blackwater Leisure Centre on 14 June 2008. The group went swimming after attending a judo competition at the centre.

There were two lifeguards on poolside duty on the day and a third who was just starting their shift when members of the public found Michelle at the bottom of the pool’s deep end. Attempts to resuscitate her failed and she died at the scene.

The HSE investigated the incident and identified the leisure-centre operator, Leisure Connection Ltd, had failed to ensure three lifeguards were supervising the pool at all time and that they were stationed in suitable positions to ensure they could monitor the deep end.

HSE inspector Antonina Drury said: “This tragic and untimely death should never have happened. Evidence emerged in the course of the investigation that Leisure Connection failed to identify and address the fact that the amount of life guarding it was paying its staff to provide at Blackwater Leisure Centre was noticeably less than the amount it knew was required for full and safe operation of the pool.”

Leisure Connection Ltd appeared at Chelmsford Crown Court on 18 July and pleaded guilty to breaching s3(1) of the HSWA 1974. It was fined £90,000 and ordered to pay £101,663 in costs.

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