Charge over drowning death

BACKYARD pool laws are set to be more strictly enforced after an Armidale man was charged with manslaughter over a child’s drowning death.
Nanjing Night Net

Philip John Cameron, 61, became the first person in NSW to be arrested on the charge after police claimed his pool was inadequately fenced.

Police allege Mr Cameron caused the child’s death by failing to comply with backyard pool legislation.

The Express understands Mr Cameron had not repaired a broken perimeter fence for up to 12 months.

Campaigner on child drowning prevention Katherine Plint told The Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) local councils needed to enforce the law and help prosecute offenders.

Neighbours are believed to have voiced concerns about Mr Cameron’s fence prior to the two-and-a-half year old toddler’s death.

But Armidale Dumaresq Council general manager Shane Burns said they had not received a formal complaint.

Mr Burns said council had complied with the Swimming Pools Act 1992, which requires them to establish a register of pools, send an annual checklist and respond to breaches.

The legislation is currently under review, with the State Government expected to demand more regular inspections from councils.

Mr Burns predicted the possible changes could have a negative financial impact on pool owners.

“Without additional resources and funding, council would struggle to do that (regular inspections),” he said. “If we had to do a yearly inspection of all the pools, we’d probably have to get someone else to do that, and that would come at a cost.”

Despite Mr Burns’ claims, the toddler’s death has increased a widespread push for greater security measures.

The child had wandered into Mr Cameron’s yard from an adjoining property on May 14 and fallen into the pool.

He was pulled from the pool unconscious by his mother and rushed to Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital, where he died two days later.

A two-month investigation found sufficient evidence to charge Mr Cameron for the boy’s death.

New England Local Area Command Detective Inspector Greig Stier told the SMH police were not looking to set a precedent with Mr Cameron’s arrest.

“We believe he’s committed an offence by not adequately fencing the pool as he’s required to do by law,” he said. “We’ll allege the fence was there but not in a state that would stop people getting in.”

Mr Cameron is due to face Armidale Local Court on August 6.

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