Advising with empathy and experience

Gym and leisure chain fined £2.5m over death of three-year-old boy in Leeds.


One of Britain’s biggest gym and leisure chains has been fined more than £2.5m after a three-year-old boy drowned in one of its swimming pools.

David Lloyd Leisure was fined at Leeds Crown Court after the company pleaded guilty to a breach of health and safety law.

Rocco Wright was three when he was pulled by his father from the bottom of a pool in Moortown, Leeds, in April 2018.

An inquest in 2020 heard that Rocco had got away from the side of his father, who described his rising panic as he frantically searched for his son. He then spotted him at the bottom of the main pool, dived in and pulled him out. Rocco died in hospital the following day.

Steven Wright told the inquest that Rocco never got in the pool himself. There were no witnesses or CCTV to show how the boy ended up in the water. At the time of the incident there was only one lifeguard, aged 17, on duty.

An inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death. Afterwards Leeds City Council said it intended to prosecute David Lloyd Leisure for offences under the 1974 Health and Safety at Work act.

That prosecution concluded when Judge Simon Phillips KC fined the company £2.55m and ordered it to pay £258,355 costs.

He found that the company’s culpability was high and said they had ignored staff concerns about the number of lifeguards working at any one time.

Leeds City Council said its investigators identified inadequate lifeguarding arrangements at the club during several years leading to Rocco’s death.

In their family statement, the Wrights said: “Rocco had an infectious laugh and a smile which lit up the room. He was loved and adored by all his family. He had his whole life ahead of him, and we dearly miss our little ‘buddy’ every day.

“Whilst David Lloyd has now finally filed a plea of guilty, accepting that it was their failings that led to Rocco’s death, we, as a family are extremely disappointed that this has taken over five years.

“David Lloyd have had numerous opportunities to submit an early plea but waited until what was less than two weeks prior to a lengthy trial. This unnecessary delay has caused increased anxiety and prolonged misery and sadness across our entire family.”

Russell Barnes, CEO of David Lloyd Leisure, said: “Today is another difficult day for Rocco’s family and our thoughts are with them. We are sorry for their loss and wish to share our sympathy with Rocco’s family and loved ones.”