Saturday, 7 July 2012

Drowning highlights pool fencing issues

An article appeared in the media during the week highlighting the tragic drowning of a young boy in Armidale, NSW. It seems the little fellow wandered into the backyard of a neighbour and fell into his pool. It is worth quoting one of the articles on this subject which was published in the Sydney Morning Herald for more details …

“THE mother took her eyes off her toddler for a second. But it was enough time for the two-year-old boy to wander away, fall into a swimming pool and drown.

Now, in what is believed to be a nationwide first, Philip John Cameron, 61, has been charged with manslaughter because he did not adequately fence his pool.

Mr Cameron was inside his Armidale home watching television one afternoon this year when the boy wandered through his backyard and fell in the pool.

Mr Cameron's unkempt pool, described by one neighbour as ''a bit of a cesspit'', had a fence around it that was dilapidated.

After a two-month investigation, police charged Mr Cameron with manslaughter on Tuesday evening (3 July 2012) and ordered him to appear in an Armidale court next month. He is believed to be the first pool owner to be charged with manslaughter for not having a proper fence.”

The death of a toddler in such circumstances is, without a doubt, heart-breaking but there are wider implications for property owners with pools. This case sounds a clear warning bell to pool-owners to ensure their pool fencing is adequate and that all gates are self-closing.

Property owners who rent their property rely on their property manager to provide this information but must act on advice when faulty fencing or gates are reported to them. Too many times we report such maintenance issues to landlords and too many times they consider the repair a minor matter and often put it to one side or ignore our advice.

The mere fact that the property owner in the case above has been charged with manslaughter underlines the seriousness with which such neglect is now being seen by both the public and the police. It is no longer acceptable to allow pool fencing to deteriorate so that it becomes a danger to others.