Tayside and Central Scotland

Firm fined £234,000 over Arbroath pool death

Aidan Sands Image copyright Supplied
Image caption Aidan Sands' father said the tragedy had "ripped our family apart"

A schoolboy died after being submerged for just 51 seconds in a pool that had no lifeguards and no-one able to give first aid, a court heard.

Six-year-old Aidan Sands, who could not swim, died during a trip to the leisure centre at the Red Lion Caravan Park in Arbroath in June 2011.

Loch Earn Caravan Parks Ltd, was fined £234,000 over health and safety failings that led to the tragedy.

Speaking outside court, Aidan's father said it had "ripped our family apart."

Forfar Sheriff Court heard how Aidan, from Dundee, his mother, and three siblings had arrived at the park three hours before the tragedy for a short break.

He had been playing in a toddler pool with his brother while his mother and two sisters swam in the 1.2m (4ft) deep main pool.

Dragged from pool

Aidan made his way into the main pool with a tubular float, but lost grip of it and was submerged.

Depute fiscal Gavin Callaghan told how Aidan's brother was the first to notice the unfolding events.

He said CCTV captured the boy going underwater for 51 seconds before he was pulled to the surface, dragged from the pool and had CPR performed on him by other swimmers.

The pool had no lifeguards and staff were not trained in CPR.

Image copyright Google
Image caption A sheriff told the park's operators "a significant fine must be imposed"

Aidan was rushed to hospital but died four days later from brain injuries caused by his near-drowning.

Mr Callaghan said: "As he held on to the pool edge the tube floated away from him.

"He reached out to grab it but missed, causing his head and body to go under water.

"This was not noticed by anyone else at the pool at that time.

"About 51 seconds later Aidan's brother became aware that he was under the water and pulled his head above the surface."

'Tragic consequences'

He added: "Had the lifeguarding provision been in place on the date of the incident intervention would have taken place before the tragic consequences were allowed to develop.

"The provision of lifeguards would have reduced the likelihood of the incident occurring and the failure to have lifeguards in place is therefore a significant causal factor in the resultant death."

Loch Earn Caravan Parks Ltd, based in Errol, Perthshire, admitted failing to carry out a suitable risk assessment, failing to ensure safety of all people using the pool, failing to ensure adequate supervision and failing to provide sufficient information and training to employees.

Defence advocate Barry Smith said: "I am expressly instructed to tender on behalf of the company and all those associated with it the sincere condolences of that company and those people to the family of Aidan Sands."

Sheriff Jack Brown said: "The absence of lifeguards and a risk assessment continued for a period of some years and it may be that the absence of any other incident led to a false sense of security.

"A significant fine must be imposed.

"It goes without saying that no financial penalty will ever reflect the loss suffered by Aidan's family."

'Long and difficult road'

Speaking outside court, Aidan's father Kevin said: "I'm glad the matter has been decided and the owners have accepted responsibility.

"The sheriff has imposed a significant fine.

"It has ripped our family apart - not just my side but both sides of the family."

Aidan's mother, Mandy, died aged 36, about two years after the tragedy.

Members of her family released a statement through their solicitors.

Brian Castle, of Digby Brown solicitors in Dundee, said: "It has been a long and difficult road.

"They have had little access to information while the possibility of criminal proceedings remained open.

"This guilty plea is a belated one but it does provide some considerable comfort to the family to learn that the caravan park operator is now accepting responsibility for Aidan's death."

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