Media Release: Armidale Pool Owner Charged with Manslaughter after Toddler Drowning
Following the tragic death of an Armidale toddler days after a near drowning in May, it has now been reported that the owner of the property on which the pool was located has been charged with manslaughter. It is alleged that the pool at the property at which the child drowned was not adequately fenced.
Michael Morris, Managing Director of the Samuel Morris Foundation said “this tragedy highlights the importance of all pools having correctly installed and maintained pool fences, it is a reminder that correctly installed and maintained pool fencing is not only critical for the safety of children that may reside at the property, but also for children that may visit the property, whether they are neighbours, relatives or friends”
Michael Morris also said “NSW legislation currently requires that the occupier must so long as the swimming pool exists, maintain the barrier in existence and in a good state of repair as an effective and safe child-resistant barrier. The laying of charges in this incident is a reminder that pool owners may be held accountable in the event of an accident involving their pool”
Michael Morris said “we would also like to remind people that all swimming pools, including inflatable and portable swimming pools capable of being filled with 30cm or more of water must be fenced. We encourage all pool owners to watch the Protect Your Pool:Protect Your Kids video athttp://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/projects/drowning-prevention/swimming-pool-fencing ”
The Protect Your Pool: Protect Your Kids video was a project in partnership with KidsHealth at the Childrens Hospital at Westmead, The Samuel Morris Foundation, NSW Swimming Pool and Spa Association and Shell’s Clyde Refinery staff fund, the video provides information to help pool owners ensure that their pool meets the appropriate standards”
A couple of examples of media following this issue:
Charged for pool death of toddler
Warnings over swimming pool dangers
Interview with Paul Murray [audio:https://samuelmorrisfoundation.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/MICHAEL-MORRIS-WITH-PAUL-MURRAY-040712.mp3]
Interview on Channel 10’s The Project (segment starts at 8min 5sec)
Josh Green says
This drowning is a total failure of community. On one hand you have a homeowner who does not maintain his property (and in particular his pool) to a community acceptable standard and on the other hand you have a council that won’t enforce the laws they have jurisdiction over. It seems that if your neighbour’s property poses a threat to the safety of others, the only course of action is to get your solicitor to send polite letters that can be completely ignored by those that have no respect for the law. I hope this pool owner gains some respect for the law and the community when it throws him in gaol.
The SMF Team says
This story is a tragedy for everyone involved. A family has been given a life sentence through the loss of their child. A series of failures have led to this tragic outcome. It is why we all need to advocate for improvements to Pool Safety Legislation, including mandatory ongoing safety inspections and a toughening of compliance issues. Please write to your local member of parliament encouraging them to become involved in this issue.
Why should an innocent man be charged. I thought it was a mothers duty to look after her child. After all the taxpayers are paying her money to do that. What right has the child to be in a neighbours property. Police never want to charge the mother always look for someone or something to blame. Just as well there was good Police work when a mother was charged in Western Australia with murdering her toddler the story would have been accepted in NSW. Another child drowned at Barnham last night in an irrigation canal. Police immediately said no charges would be laid tragic accident. Very suspicious this current matter and why was the other mother from [name deleted by moderator, due to potential defamation] involved she also neglected her child. What is needed is a good Task Force to check on the mother or carer of the child not the neighbour. Are these people after money. I think the mother should have been charged and taken straight to gaol.
The problem is mum was not looking after her child. Why was the home she had the toddler in not have a good high fence and a good deadlock gate. Instead of worrying about your neighbour or your friends neighbours place make sure your own fence is high and in perfect condition with a good high gate and deadlocks. Also make sure the child is in the house when you are in the house and if outside you are with them at all times. No good when something happens tell everyone to take care of your child. Stop blaming everyone but yourself. If the government had the courage a Gaol term for the parent or carer is the answer.
The SMF Team says
Supervision is the first line of defence, but every parent knows that children can and do slip out of sight, you can not possibly watch them 24/7. Water Safety for toddlers is a whole of community responsibility. Every fatal drowning is subject to a police investigation and a report to the Coroner.