Leeds & West Yorkshire

Rocco Wright swimming pool death: David Lloyd Leisure faces prosecution

Rocco Wright Image copyright Family handout
Image caption Rocco Wright died in the David Lloyd Leisure pool in Leeds in April 2018

A leisure group is facing prosecution after a three-year-old boy drowned in one of its swimming pools.

Rocco Wright died after being found in the pool at the David Lloyd Leisure centre in Moortown, Leeds, in 2018.

Earlier on Monday a jury inquest at Wakefield Coroner's Court ruled his death was accidental.

After the inquest Leeds City Council said it believed the group had breached health and safety laws and intended to "prosecute in the near future".

In a statement, the council said: "The death of a child in any circumstances is tragic, and we continue to offer the Wright family our sincerest sympathy.

"We will keep in regular contact with the family and ensure they are informed and supported throughout this next stage."

The inquest previously heard how Rocco had to be pulled from the water by his father Steven Wright in April 2018.

Mr Wright described how his panic grew as he searched for Rocco before he spotted him at the bottom of the main pool.

He said his son had never got into the pool by himself and the inquest heard there were no witnesses or CCTV evidence that could explain how Rocco ended up in the water.

The jury found that the youngster had probably been under the 1.2m (4ft) deep water for more than two minutes.

Image caption Police said there were no witnesses or CCTV to help determine how Rocco got into the pool

Jurors were told that at the time of the drowning, there had only been one 17-year-old lifeguard on duty.

David Lloyd Leisure's operations director Stephen Brown denied in the inquest there had been cuts to the lifeguard budget at the pool.

He told the hearing the company's policy was that a maximum of 50 people in a pool could be supervised by a single lifeguard.

Mr Brown also denied David Lloyd Leisure had a policy of employing young lifeguards because they were cheaper and added lifeguard staffing levels were for local managers to decide.

'Family devastated'

Outside the coroner's court, Natalie Marrison - representing Catharine and Steven Wright - said Rocco's parents supported Leeds City Council's investigation and planned prosecution.

Ms Marrison said: "At the heart of this is a three-year-old boy who has lost his life.

"The family remain devastated by the loss."

Mr Wright said that the family had "lost the fun from our lives" following Rocco's death.

"We're definitely going to fight for further law and guidelines in this field, just to make sure it can't happen to anyone else," he said.

"No-one should lose a child at a family swim session."

In a statement after the inquest, David Lloyd Leisure said it wanted "to express our deepest sympathies to Rocco's family".

"David Lloyd Leisure never places profit above safety," the company said.

"Subsequent evidence given by David Lloyd Leisure at the inquest showed no evidence of budget cuts to lifeguarding at the Leeds Club at the time of the accident, on the contrary lifeguarding had in fact received increased investment."

The firm added that safety was its "number one priority" and it was "unaware on what basis Leeds City Council intend to prosecute".

The jury returned its conclusion after coroner Jonathan Leach told jurors that accident was the only one available to them.

Correction 17 February: This story has been amended to make it clear it is David Lloyd Leisure that is facing prosecution.

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