Lifeguard cleared over Wolverhampton swimming pool death tragedy
A lifeguard accused of failing to supervise pool users in Wolverhampton when an eight-year-old boy drowned was this afternoon cleared.
The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for four and a half hours before delivering their verdict after the two-week trial of Kelly Woods at Wolverhampton Crown Court.
Woods, aged 31, of Woodland Avenue, Tettenhall Wood, had been accused of not supervising bathers, including Suraj Mall, before he drowned at the Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in Wednesfield on February 10, 2008.
The court had been told Woods was talking to another user, Barry King, shortly before spotting Suraj, drowned, face down in the water. She however maintained she had kept her eyes on the pool as she spoke to Mr King.
The defendant, who was of previous good character, showed no emotion as the not guilty verdict was read out in court, but cried as she left the building.
Judge Amjad Nawaz ruled her defence costs would be paid, and told Woods: "In so far as the past five years are concerned, I hope you are able to put it behind you and get on with your life.
"This verdict is no reflection on anybody at all. The Mall family have conducted themselves with exceptional courage and grace throughout."
After the verdict, Amy Kalay, who led the investigation by the Health and Safety Executive, which brought the prosecution to court, said: "However disappointed we are with today's verdict, this prosecution will reiterate to lifeguards, leisure centres and pool owners worldwide of the importance of constant vigilance when looking after swimmers in their care."
Appearing as a witness during the case Woods said her conversation with Mr King lasted around two minutes, though she admitted that was too long and she should have asked maintained had not looked at him while their conversation took place.
Speaking afterwards the family of Suraj paid tribute to him. His mother Lajla Kaur, who attended court with his grandfather Balbir and his aunt Pam Badhan, said he was 'always smiling and laughing'.
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