£190k bill for child's pool death

A leisure centre operator has been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £190,000 after a seven-year-old girl from east London drowned in a swimming pool.

Leisure centre operator admits breach of safety

A company has been ordered to pay almost £200,000 in fines and costs after a seven-year-old girl drowned in a swimming pool in Essex. Michelle Gellard died in June 2008 at the Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon.

The centre's operators admitted a breach of health and safety. This report from Luke Farringdon:

'Insufficient number' of lifeguards day of child's death

A court heard today that there were insufficient numbers of lifeguards on duty on the day, when a seven-year-old girl drowned in a swimming pool.

Essex Police handout picture of Michelle Gellard of east London. Credit: Essex Police/PA Wire

Michelle Gellard, from east London, died after she went swimming with other children at the Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon, Essex, on June 14, 2008, after attending a judo competition.

Two lifeguards were on poolside duty with a third arriving after the alarm was raised, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said.

One of the lifeguards retrieved her from the water with help from a swimmer but despite resuscitation attempts she was later pronounced dead at Colchester General Hospital.

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'Tragic' pool death 'should never have happened'

A seven-year-old girl was "robbed of her chances" of rescue after she drowned in a swimming pool, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said today.

Michelle Gellard, from east London, died after she went swimming with other children at the Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon, Essex, on June 14, 2008, after attending a judo competition.

HSE inspector Antonina Drury said:

This tragic and untimely death should never have happened.

Members of the public visiting leisure centre swimming pools have an entitlement to expect that the operator paid to run them will deploy and train its staff so as to provide sufficient numbers of life guards in the right places so as to operate the pool safely.

In this case, Michelle Gellard was robbed of her chances of rescue and survival by Leisure Connection's failures.

Evidence emerged in the course on the investigation that Leisure Connection failed to identify and address the fact that the amount of lifeguarding 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.

Parents still 'coming to terms' with child's pool death

The parents of a seven-year-old girl who drowned in a swimming pool have said they are still "trying to terms with what happened", after the leisure centre operator was ordered to pay fines totalling £190,000 today.

Michelle Gellard, from east London, died after she went swimming with other children at the Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon, Essex, on June 14, 2008, after attending a judo competition.

Michelle's parents, Mark and Sian Gellard, said in a statement:

As a family, life is still very difficult without Michelle. We are still trying to come to terms with what happened.

She is dearly missed by all the family and in our thoughts everyday.

We just want to carry on with our family life the best we can in private.

Leisure centre operator fined £190k after child drowns

A leisure centre operator has been ordered to pay fines and costs totalling £190,000 after a seven-year-old girl from east London drowned in a swimming pool.

A general view of the Blackwater Leisure Centre, Park Drive Maldon, Essex. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA

Michelle Gellard, from east London, died after she went swimming with other children at the Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon, Essex, on June 14, 2008, after attending a judo competition.

Chelmsford Crown Court heard there were insufficient numbers of lifeguards on duty on the day of her death and it was members of the public who spotted her at the bottom of the pool's deep end.

Despite resuscitation attempts she was later pronounced dead at Colchester General Hospital.

Bedfordshire-based Leisure Connection Ltd, which operates the pool, was fined £90,000 with legal costs of £101,663.