Essex

Michelle Gellard swimming death: Leisure Connection faces charge

  • 23 August 2012
  • From the section Essex
Blackwater Leisure Centre
Michelle Gellard was pulled from the pool at Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon

A leisure firm will be prosecuted by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a child was pulled unconscious from its swimming pool and later died.

Seven-year-old Michelle Gellard had been at Blackwater Leisure Centre in Maldon, Essex, on 14 June, 2008.

A jury returned a verdict of accidental death during an inquest held last year.

The HSE said it was prosecuting Leisure Connection Ltd, which runs the centre for Maldon District Council, under the Health and Safety at Work Act.

A first hearing is due to take place on 11 September at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court.

The council said it was aware of the legal action but would not be commenting further until after the process was completed.

Leisure Connection said it would not comment.

'Helpful little girl'

During the inquest held in Chelmsford in May 2011, the jury heard that Michelle, from the Isle of Dogs in east London, had been competing in a judo competition at the centre and went for a swim after winning a silver medal.

Michelle - described as a loving, confident and helpful little girl by her family - was pulled out of the pool by a lifeguard and fellow swimmer.

Staff were unable to resuscitate her and she was flown to Colchester General Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The prosecution by the HSE is being brought under section 3 (i) of the Health and Safety at Work Act.

The section states: "It shall be the duty of every employer to conduct his undertaking in such a way as to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that persons not in his employment who may be affected thereby are not thereby exposed to risks to their health or safety."

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