An eight-year-old boy drowned in a swimming pool because a lifeguard was chatting to a customer and not paying attention, a court heard.

Suraj Mall died after he was found floating face down in a leisure centre swimming pool in February 2008.

Lifeguard Kelly Woods, 31, who was on duty when the youngster drowned, went on trial on Monday charged with failing to properly supervise pool users.

Suraj Mall was found in the pool afetr his mother had taken him and his siblings swimming

Suraj Mall was found in the pool afetr his mother had taken him and his siblings swimming

A court heard Woods had been stood talking to a customer for 15 minutes and failed to notice the child was drowning at Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre.

Prosecutor Mr James Puzey told Wolverhampton Crown Court that Woods then dived into the pool to try to save the schoolboy.

Lifeguard Kelly Woods is accused of failing to properly supervise pool users

Lifeguard Kelly Woods is accused of failing to properly supervise pool users

But by that time the youngster had already been submerged face down in the pool for almost two minutes and despite attempts to revive him Suraj was later pronounced dead at New Cross Hospital.

Mr Puzey said: 'She was at work and got talking to a customer while she was on duty.

'A few minutes later a boy - Suraj Mall - was found floating face down in the water.'

Opening the case Mr Puzey - prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive - said:

'Suraj Mall was found by two girls that were swimming in the pool and they had to attract the defendant's attention.

'At least a minute and a half must have passed since he had become submerged.

'This defendant was a lifeguard and her job was to look after people who came to swim at the public pool.

'We all use swimming pools - it is important to know the lifeguards are there doing their job. It is a vital job.

'The reason she is here is that she owed a duty, she was an employee.

'A basic duty of a lifeguard must be to watch people in the pool, to prevent people from coming to harm.

'Customers are at risk if the lifeguard allows themselves to become distracted.

'It is fundamental to what they do that their whole attention must be focused on the pool.

Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in Wolverhampton, where the schoolboy drowned

Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in Wolverhampton, where the schoolboy drowned

 

Jurors heard that five lifeguards were on duty that day, and from the man she was talking to, Barry King

Jurors heard that five lifeguards were on duty that day, and from the man Woods was talking to, Barry King

'The pool was averagely busy and the defendant herself has said she had a clear view into the water.'

The case, which is expected to last two weeks, continues.

The youngster's mother, who had taken Suraj and his three siblings to the pool, wept in the witness stand as she recounted the events of the day.

Lajla Kaur, 35, went for a brief induction at the centre's gym and returned to see her four children in the pool's shallow end through a glass window.

She then went to get change for a locker and on returning couldn't see her son.

She said: 'Suraj wasn't there and I kind of panicked.

'When I got the children's attention they couldn't hear me through the glass.

'When they did finally understand they pointed towards the changing room.

'Then I heard the alarm and people were coming out of the pool.'

Jurors also heard from five lifeguards who were on duty the day Suraj died.

Natalie Emery, 24, said rules dictated that conversations with customers of up to two minutes were not permissible.

Lifeguards took half-hour shifts overseeing one area of the centre and the most recent changeover had occurred at 4.30pm - 19 minutes before a 999 call was made about the drowning.

Miss Emery said: 'I noticed Kelly was talking to a gentleman. It was for between 10 and 15 minutes.'

But customer Barry King said he and Woods, from Tettenhall Wood, West Midlands, were talking for just 'a couple of minutes'.

He said he went over to chat to Woods about a previous incident where he had been told the shorts he wore were too long to swim in.

He said: 'She was concentrating on her job and I don't think I distracted her.'

The trial continues.