A hotel where a three-year-old drowned in a swimming pool has increased its safety measures – but they are still not good enough, an expert witness told an inquest hearing.
Three-year-old Jane Bell drowned in the deep end of the indoor pool at the three-star Dalmeny Hotel in St Annes, in August 2014 during a family holiday away from home in Galashiels,Scotland.
An inquest jury, sitting in Blackpool, was told by director of the hotel, Samantha Lewis, that the pool was built in 1970 and was now too deep at one end for modern safety standards.
She told the hearing that the hotel was considering putting a false bottom over the 7ft foot deep end to reduce its depth.
She said: “We have had quotes from two contractors and hope the work might start later this year.
“It would bring the pool to the standard required if the pool was being built now.”
The witness denied telling an officer from Fylde Council that the hotel had five qualified lifeguards.
She said:” I did not say lifeguards to him.I said trained first-aiders.”
However, giving evidence, the officer, Anthony Stephens, said he had been told by Samantha Lewis that she had used the word lifeguards.
Lewis said that new poolside health and safety training had been imposed and during busier times the pool would be patrolled at least once every 15 minutes.
Expert witness, leisure and pool management consultant Peter Mills, told the jury that as long as the pool had a 7ft deep end, there should be constant poolside lifeguards on duty.
He also said that monitoring CCTV images from poolside cameras was not adequate, stating: “Cameras don’t save lives and rescue people.”
Arrest was made by senior officer after police reviewed footage
Det Chf Insp Dean Holden, who led the police inquiry into Jane’s death, told the hearing that the child’s mum had been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder of her daughter and child neglect.
Her husband David was regarded as a witness to events which led up to the drowning of Jane.
Det Chf Insp Dean Holden told the jury and coroner Alan Wilson: “Almost uniquely the decision to arrest the mother was based on the CCTV images of what went on.
“It was made by a senior officer.”
“It was the Chief Crown Prosecutor who later told us they would not be prosecuting Sarah Bell.”