Page last updated at 15:37 GMT, Monday, 17 November 2008

'Adequate' cover at swimming pool

Picture of Splashland
Splashland was closed following the incident in October 2005

There was "adequate" lifeguard cover at a swimming pool where a seven-year-old boy suffered brain damage after he almost drowned, an expert told a court.

Cardiff Crown Court heard that Chad Mole suffered a "catastrophic brain injury" after he nearly drowned in a pool at Trecco Bay park in Porthcawl.

Although he was revived, the boy from Birmingham, was left severely disabled.

The caravan park owners, Upper Bay Limited, deny health and safety charges brought by Bridgend Council.

Independent safety consultant Keith Sach, who helped compile the Health and Safety Executive's guidance to pool operators, told the jury that a lifeguard was no substitute for the supervision of a parent.

He explained that the three lifeguards watching the pool at Splashland at the time of the incident "seems to me adequate" and the HSE made it clear that children under eight need a level of supervision the pool operator, through lifeguards, cannot deliver.

"It recognises that by saying the first risk control measure is direct supervision by a parent or adult," he said.

The HSE's own research shows 60% of drowning emergencies they investigate are first detected by bystanders
Safety consultant Keith Sach

He added that it was a popular misconception that if somebody other than a lifeguard is the first to spot a person in difficulties that the lifeguard has failed in some way.

"The HSE's own research shows 60% of drowning emergencies they investigate are first detected by bystanders," he explained.

He said lifeguards wore distinguishable clothing so bystanders knew immediately where to turn for immediate qualified assistance.

John Cooper, defending Upper Bay Limited, asked Mr Sach: "The fundamental line of responsibility is the parent?"

Mr Sach replied: "Yes."

He went onto explain that physical intervention would only be used by a lifeguard if a child was in danger and needed to be retrieved to the pool side.

Mr Sach said that in today's society physically pulling, tugging or restraining a child would be "open to considerable misinterpretation and parental objection".

South Wales Police investigated the incident but nobody was charged with a criminal offence.


The jury has heard Chad's father, Brian Mole, from Halesowen, near Birmingham, explain how he took Chad and his other son JJ, then four, to the pool during a holiday on 18 October, 2005.

He said none of them could swim and he thought Chad was behind him while he played with JJ.

Mr Mole said he then saw another pool-goer bringing Chad "lifeless" out of the pool.

He said: "He was lifeless and I screamed and screamed 'Where were the lifeguards?'.

"They should have done their job. I thought that pool was safe. I thought they would be watching at all times."

The trial continues.

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