London: A lifeguard was chatting to a customer for up to 15 minutes in the lead-up to the drowning of an eight-year-old Indian boy in the city of Wolverhampton, a British court was told.
The lifeguard Kelly Woods is accused of failing to properly supervise pool users including youngster Suraj Mall ֖ at Wolverhampton Swimming and Fitness Centre in February 2008.
During Woods' trial at Wolverhampton Crown Court yesterday jurors heard from five lifeguards who were on duty that day, as well as the man she was talking to, Barry King.
Lifeguard Natalie Emery said rules dictated that conversations with customers of more than two minutes were not permissible.
Lifeguards took half-hour shifts overseeing one area of the centre and the most recent changeover had occurred that day at 4.30 pm 19 minutes before a 999 call was made about the drowning.
Emery said, "I noticed Kelly was talking to a gentleman. It was for between 10 and 15 minutes".
Two girls in the pool alerted Woods to Suraj being face down in the water.
Fellow lifeguard Laura Kane, who dived into the pool after Woods estimated Woods and King's conversation at being 'more than five minutes'.
But King said he and Woods were talking for just 'a couple of minutes'.
He went over to chat to Woods, who was overseeing the leisure pool, about a previous incident where he had been told the shorts he wore were too long to swim in, the court heard.
He also spoke to Woods, now aged 31 and of Woodland Avenue, Tettenhall Wood, about how she had recently helped him out when he had run out of money for a locker.
King said the pair were talking, but that it was a one-sided conversation.
"She was concentrating on her job and I don't think I distracted her," he added.
He agreed with a suggestion by Woods' defence barrister Ben Compton, that her attention was on the pool throughout the two-minute chat.
The trial continues.