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David Lloyd Leisure fined £2.5m over death of three-year-old boy following guilty plea

David Lloyd Leisure has been fined more than £2.5m after pleading guilty to charges relating to the Health and Safety at Work Act
The case was brought following the death of a three-year-old boy
Rocco Wright died after being found at the bottom of the pool at the David Lloyd Leisure Club on Tongue Lane, Moortown, Leeds
At the time of the incident there was only one lifeguard, aged 17, on duty
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David Lloyd Leisure has been fined more than £2.5m after pleading guilty to charges brought under the UK's Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was also ordered to pay £258,355 costs.

The case against DLL was brought following the death of a three-year-old boy, Rocco Wright, at the David Lloyd Leisure Club on Tongue Lane, Moortown, Leeds.

An inquest in 2020 heard how Rocco had been visiting the centre in April 2018 with his father and had, at some point, wandered away.

After setting out to look for Rocco, the father spotted him at the bottom of the main pool, dived in and pulled him out. Tragically, Rocco died in hospital the following day.

At the time of the incident there was only one lifeguard, aged 17, on duty.

Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance HSG179 Health and Safety in Swimming Pools recommends that 'constant poolside supervision by lifeguards provides the best assurance of pool user's safety'.

In a pool measuring 25m x 12.5m, the HSE guidance provides for two lifeguards, which may be required following a lifeguard zone visibility test.

The incident was investigated by Leeds City Council's environmental health team.

The investigation found that David Lloyd Leisure had been "exposing club members to risks contrary to Section 33(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, between September 1, 2015, and April 22 2018" at the Moortown club.

Following the findings, the council launched a prosecution against DLL.

Now, more than five years after the incident, DLL has pleaded guilty to the charges.

Councillor Mohammed Rafique, Leeds City Council executive member for climate, energy, environment and green space, said: “I would like to begin by offering the council's sincere condolences to the Wright family.

"This tragic story underlines the importance for employers and duty holders to ensure that the safety of their employees and customers is a priority.

“I would also like to thank the council’s environmental health and legal teams, and the barristers from St Paul’s Chambers for their dedication and hard work to ensure David Lloyd Leisure Limited were held accountable for their failings.

“The council will always look to work with and support businesses to meet their legal duties, however we won’t hesitate to take enforcement action in cases of serious and prolonged non-compliance."

In a statement at the time of the inquest, the family said ""We are extremely shocked to hear that David Lloyd chose to appoint only one Lifeguard to supervise their 25 metre pool on that Saturday morning, when it was known to them that a large number of young children would be swimming.

"We were devastated to hear the facilities manager give testimony that lifeguard numbers had been cut at the pool due to what he stated was 'staff optimisation' in line with budget cuts, despite numerous lifeguards stating they had raised concerns about lifeguard numbers and general safety at the pool."

Following the sentencing they expressed disappointment that it had taken five years for the case to reach a conclusion, saying: “Whilst David Lloyd have now finally filed a plea of guilty, accepting that it was their failings that led to Rocco’s death, we, as a family are extremely disappointed that this has taken over five years.

“David Lloyd have had numerous opportunities to submit an early plea but waited until what was less than two weeks prior to a lengthy trial. This unnecessary delay has caused increased anxiety and prolonged misery and sadness across our entire family.”

In a short statement, Russell Barnes, CEO of David Lloyd Leisure, said: “Today is another difficult day for Rocco’s family and our thoughts are with them.

“We are sorry for their loss and wish to share our sympathy with Rocco’s family and loved ones.

IN OTHER NEWS

In May 2022, a four-year-old girl tragically died following an incident at DLL's club in Capability Green Luton. The case is still under investigation by Luton Borough Council.

At the end of June, Reuters reported that TDR Capital, DLL's main shareholder, is seeking the sale of a majority stake in the company in a deal it says could be worth up to £2bn. DLL's loans are thought to be around £900k and mature in 2027.

TDR took control of the company in 2013 from London & Regional and Caird Capital LLP for £750m.

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David Lloyd Leisure has been fined more than £2.5m after pleading guilty to charges brought under the UK's Health and Safety at Work Act. The company was also ordered to pay £258,355 costs.
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