Backyard swimming pool was deemed unsafe by council inspector before toddler’s drowning


April 02, 2019 20:11:11

A backyard swimming pool where a toddler drowned was deemed non-compliant by the local council but inspectors never followed up their safety concerns, a coronial inquest has heard.

Key points:

  • The toddler was taken to hospital after the 2016 incident but died two days later
  • The court heard an inspector deemed the pool non-compliant with safety regulations in 2014
  • The pool required changes including a double gate that needed to “self-close”

Deputy state coroner Anthony Schapel is investigating the death of Crystal Trinh, who was 19 months old when she drowned in her aunt’s backyard swimming pool in January, 2016.

In his opening address, counsel assisting the coroner Ahura Kalali said on the day that the “worst imaginable tragedy” happened, Crystal’s family had gone to her aunt’s home for a social visit and to use the swimming pool.

Mr Kalali said at about 8:30pm Crystal’s mother got her out of the swimming pool, took her inside and dressed her before leaving her “just outside the backdoor”.

In a statement, Ms Trinh said she left her daughter outside while she went and had a shower because her father and brother were still in the backyard.

“She could hear Crystal crying because she wanted to go back in the pool, she describes that in the second half of her shower she could not hear Crystal,” Mr Kalali said.

“When she went back outside she asked her husband where Crystal was and he said he had not seen her.

“The alarm was raised and they commenced looking for her.”

The court heard the garage doors were open so Mrs Trinh ran to search for Crystal out the front and along the street.

“She then heard a scream coming from the house and returned to find Crystal had been taken out of the pool by her sister … who was performing CPR,” Mr Kalali said.

The court heard Crystal was partly covered by an inflatable slide when her aunty found her unconscious in the pool.

She was taken to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, where she died two days later.

“Crystal Trinh was left outside the rear door and outside the gated area of the swimming pool, somehow she ended up in the swimming pool without being seen and that ended in the worst imaginable tragedy,” Mr Kalali said.

‘Self-close’ double gate was needed

Mr Kalali told the court an inspector from the City of Salisbury Council had assessed the swimming pool in November 2014 and deemed it non-compliant with safety regulations.

The required changes included that all windows opening into the pool area had a maximum opening of 100 millimetres and that a double gate needed to “self-close” or have a latch 1.5 metres high.

“From the records obtained by this court there appears to be no follow-up by the council,” Mr Kalali said.

“This inquest will look at how the City of Salisbury Council found the swimming pool non-compliant but failed to provide a date for the work to be completed.”

The court heard the property where Crystal drowned was also used for a childcare centre by her aunt, who was an approved family day care educator for the North Metro Family Day Care Scheme.

Following Crystal’s death, the Education Department [which is responsible for the scheme] conducted an investigation and found the North Metro Family Day Care Centre Scheme did not comply with national regulations.

“How is it that the North Metro Family Day Care Centre Scheme approved a premises with a swimming pool which was deemed non-compliant by the council?” Mr Kalali said.

The court heard since Crystal’s death the Education Department and the City of Salisbury Council had made a number of changes to their policies.

The inquest continues.











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