Swim pool firm admits charge over tragic Michelle Gellard drowning

The operators who run a swimming pool where a little girl from the Isle of Dogs was drowned four years ago have admitted in court responsibility for the tragic accident.

Seven-year-old Michelle Gellard had just won a medal at a judo competition at the Blackwater leisure centre in Maldon, Essex, moments before the accident in June, 2008.

Leisure Connection Ltd appeared at Chelmsford crown court today (Mon) under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act.

The company pleaded guilty to a summons for failing to ensure the safety of all visitors and the general public, the Health & Safety Executive has confirmed.

Michelle’s parents moved from their maisonette in Seysell Street, Cubitt Town, out to Kent with their other three children soon after the tragedy. But the family returned to the Isle of Dogs last year and are living in a terraced house half-a-mile away.

Michelle was a keen member of the Docklands Dragons judo club who had won a silver medal at the Blackwater centre before going for a swim, but was found floating face down under the water.

A St John Ambulance crew at the contest and a lifeguard treated her at the pool side, but failed to revive her—she died later in Colchester Hospital.

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The family said in a statement to the Advertiser at the time: “She was a cheeky little madam with attitude who could make anyone laugh, but was also a loving, helpful and confident little girl.”

Her mum Sian Lakey added: “Michelle loved her Judo and was always dreaming up ideas for the club.”

Candles were lit and special assemblies were held at Harbinger Primary school where Michelle was a pupil.

An inquest jury returned a verdict last year of accidental death by emersion.

Lesure Connection Ltd admitted breaching Section 3 of the Health and Safety at Work Act which states that all staff have to ensure the safety of all persons such as visitors and the general public. The company will be sentenced next March.