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Holiday firm fined £234,000 over pool death of Aidan, 6

The Red Lion caravan park in Arbroath.
The Red Lion caravan park in Arbroath.

Angus holiday park bosses have been fined almost a quarter of a million pounds for “serious failings” over the tragic death of a Dundee youngster.

Six-year-old Aidan Sands was found at the bottom of an Arbroath pool in 2011 and was rushed to Ninewells Hospital, only to die four days later.

Forfar Sheriff Court heard the Mill o’ Mains schoolboy, also known as Aidan Yule, was in the toddler pool on his own as his siblings and mother Mandy swam in the adjacent main pool.

The non-swimmer then reached from the side of the main pool for a floating aid that slipped away, causing him to sink.

The operators of the Red Lion Caravan Park pled guilty to a health and safety indictment over the park’s failings on Thursday.

Loch Earn Caravan Parks of Errol, Perthshire admitted a number of failures over a four-year period leading up to Aidan’s accident.

The court heard no lifeguards were present at poolside, and the firm had a “misguided” opinion that pools of 1.2 metres or less in depth did not require one, based on professional advice — Aidan was 1.16m tall.

Advocate Barry Smith said the firm now has two full-time guards in place at poolside and a tranche of other measures.

Aidan’s father Kevin Yule said the five-year search for a conclusion had “ripped apart” both sides of the family.

And a statement for Aidan’s maternal grandparents said the Sands expressed “immense relief that they will not have to relive the tragedy at a criminal trial.”

The firm admitted failing to make a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks to members of the public when using the swimming pool, failing to ensure adequate supervision at the poolside, and failing to provide sufficient training to employees over the safe use of the pool between July 1 2007 and June 18 2011.

Angus Council and Police Scotland investigated and submitted their findings in a prosecution report to the Crown Office.

Paramedics worked on Aidan, who lived in Beauly Avenue, Kirkton for 40 minutes before he was taken to Ninewells by ambulance with a police escort.

Aidan was treated at intensive care in Ward 20 but failed to recover and died four days later in the arms of parents Mandy Sands and Kevin Yule, while also surrounded by siblings Kevin, Angel, Shannon and Dylan.

The family later launched their own legal action against the operator.

Following the death of Mandy in 2013, her parents Tom and Kathryn took over responsibility of the case.

Gary Aitken of the Crown Office health and safety division said: “The measures that Loch Earn put in place were insufficient to ensure, so far as was reasonably practicable, the safety of members of the public using its pool.

“The presence of a lifeguard on duty at the poolside would have reduced the likelihood of the incident occurring and the failure to have lifeguards in place is a significant factor in the incident and the resulting tragic death of a six year old boy.

“Hopefully this sad incident will remind other pool operators that failure to fulfil their obligations in law can have tragic consequences and that they will be held to account for their failings.

“Pool operators need to read the relevant guidance and ensure that their safety arrangements match legal requirements.”

See Friday’s Courier for more on this story.

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