David Lloyd Leisure “will be prosecuted” for alleged health and safety violations following the death of a three year old boy in one of the company’s swimming pools.
Leeds City Council made the announcement on Monday after an investigative jury returned an accidental death conclusion during a hearing in Wakefield.
The jury heard how Rocco Wright died after being pulled out of the water by his father in the David Lloyd center of Leeds on April 21, 2018.
At the hearing, it was reported that there was a 17-year-old lifeguard on duty at the time of the accident.
William Jayne, who is now 19, was only 17 when he started working part-time for the David Lloyd Leisure Club.
He said to the investigation that he was assigned the job, which was his first, in late January 2018 after obtaining the lifeguard qualification in August 2017.
He said he spent February “shading” more experienced lifeguards before working independently in March.
The court heard that he worked part-time while he was a sixth form student and had completed about seven or eight solo weekends before the accident.
A moving Jayne told zone coroner Jonathan Leach that he has not returned to work as a lifeguard after the accident.
He said: “After what happened, I didn’t go back immediately, I did some maintenance work just to look away.
“I didn’t go back to work as a lifeguard.”
He told the investigation that he was “just entering” his role and had grown in confidence since he started.
He said, “At first, I was calm and nervous, but I was hunting and the more I did, the more I trusted. It was my first job ever.”
He told the investigation that he had a good view of the pool area from his chair, which was positioned at the end of the pool.
A spokesman for the Leeds City Council said: “The death of a child in all circumstances is tragic and we continue to offer our most sincere sympathy to the Wright family.
“The Leeds City Council inspectors investigated the circumstances surrounding Rocco’s death and believe that David Lloyd Leisure Ltd has committed crimes under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, etc. of 1974, which we intend to prosecute in the near future.
“We will remain in regular contact with the family and ensure that they are informed and supported during this next phase.”
Speaking outside the Wakefield coroner’s court, Natalie Marrison – representing Catharine and Steven Wright – said that Rocco’s parents continued to have pool safety concerns at the time and supported the investigation by the City of Leeds and the legal actions envisaged.
A statement from David Lloyd Leisure said: “David Lloyd Leisure would like to express our deepest sympathies to Rocco’s family.
“Our thoughts remain with them and also with those of the club who were closely involved at the time of this tragic accident.”