William Eichler 18 February 2020

Council to prosecute leisure centre over death of toddler Rocco Wright

Leeds City Council has announced it intends to prosecute David Lloyd Leisure Ltd ‘in the near future’ over the death of Rocco Wright.

The three-year-old boy died after being found in the pool at the David Lloyd Leisure centre in Leeds in 2018.

A jury inquest at Wakefield Coroner's Court on Monday ruled the death was accidental.

However, a spokesperson for the city council said after the inquest that they intended on prosecuting the leisure centre group for health and safety breaches.

‘Leeds City Council’s Health and Safety Inspectors have investigated the circumstances of Rocco’s death and believe that David Lloyd Leisure Ltd have committed offences under The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which we intend to prosecute in the near future,’ they said.

‘We will keep in regular contact with the family and ensure they are informed and supported throughout this next stage.’

The inquest heard that there were no witnesses or CCTV evidence that could explain how Rocco ended up in the pool.

His father, Steven Wright, pulled him out of the water after the toddler had been submerged for what is believed to have been two minutes.

At the time of the drowning, there had only been one 17-year-old lifeguard on duty, prompting accusations that the leisure group had cut the lifeguard budget.

A spokesperson for David Lloyd Leisure said that health and safety ‘always will be our number one priority’.

‘The week-long inquest which concluded [yesterday], found a verdict of accidental death and we are unaware on what basis Leeds City Council intend to prosecute. It would be inappropriate for us to comment any further on the matter at this stage.’

Expressing their ‘deepest sympathies’ to Rocco’s family, the spokesperson added: ‘Subsequent evidence given by David Lloyd Leisure at the inquest showed no evidence of budget cuts to lifeguarding at the Leeds Club at the time of the accident, on the contrary lifeguarding had in fact received increased investment.’

Photo: © Humphrey Bolton

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