Hotel fined £100k after death of toddler in pool tragedy

Police outside the Dalmeny Hotel where a three year old girl got into difficulties in the pool and later died.
Police outside the Dalmeny Hotel where a three year old girl got into difficulties in the pool and later died.
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A seafront hotel has been fined £100,000 after a three-year-old girl drowned in the swimming pool.

Jane Bell was on holiday with her family at the Dalmeny Hotel in St Annes, when the tragedy struck in August 2014.

The family-run Dalmeny Hotel pleaded guilty to two breaches of health and safety regukations by failing to ensure the health and safety of people using the pool.

Preston Crown Court heard despite the pool being deep, at 2.4m, there was no lifeguard on duty and the pool was supervised on CCTV by reception staff who were carrying out other duties.

Moments before the tragedy Dan Watson, a member of staff from the hotel’s leisure complex, was on foot patrol and spotted Jane sitting at the deep end of the pool.

The toddler was not wearing armbands but Mr Watson did not warn Jane’s parents or take any action to prevent her entering the water.

Jane’s mum Sarah, who had been swimming lengths of the pool, lifted her daughter into the water and started swimming - holding the little girl above the water.

However she was unable to keep her own head and Jane’s head above the surface and let go of the little girl, who sank to the bottom of the pool, the court heard.

Her dad David Bell, 41, tried to save his daughter and a member of the hotel’s leisure complex jumped into the pool fully clothed in an attempt to save Jane, but neither were able to reach the toddler due to the depth of the water.

Jane was eventually pulled from the pool by a member of the public and an off-duty paramedic, who was checking out of the hotel, started resuscitation at the poolside.

However Jane later suffered cardiac arrest and died at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital later that day.

David Bell travelled from the family home in Galashiels, Scotland, to attend the sentence hearing.

In a victim impact statement, he said: “It is hard to fully put into words the impact losing Jane has had on us as a family.

“The hearing today, coincides with what should be Jane’s sixth birthday and instead of being a day of celebration and happiness, we find ourselves mourning the loss of someone so precious to us.

“The images of standing at Jane’s bed, watching helplessly as a team of doctors and nurses fight to save her life, are ones that will haunt me forever. I can still see Jane, lying on the bed, lifeless, where a few hours previous, she had been a happy, laughing and loved daughter.”

The Honorary Recorder of Preston, Judge Mark Brown, sentencing, said: “This is a very tragic accident involving the death of a young child in the early years of her life.

“It seems to me that the defendant must take significant responsibility for what happened.

“As well, the accident should be an important warning to parents about the dangers of the swimming pool and just how easily a young child can drown.

“At the very least Jane should have been wearing buoyancy protection when she entered the water and she should never have been allowed to go to the deep end.

“She was only three-years-old.”

The court heard since Jane’s death the hotel has instructed new health and safety advisors as their previous consultants and regular checks from the local authority had not alerted them to shortcomings in their poolside procedures.

Furthermore, work has been carried out to reduce the depth of the pool to 1.5m, in accordance to modern designs and safety recommendations.

Judge Brown handed the Dalmeny Hotel a £100,000 fine and ordered the company to pay £19,714.60 in prosecution costs.