Bannatyne health club cleaner ‘died while working at pool,’ inquest hears

Bannatyne Maida Vale, off Kilburn High Road, where cleaner Kamal Al-Hirsi died on October 10. Pictur

Bannatyne Maida Vale, off Kilburn High Road, where cleaner Kamal Al-Hirsi died on October 10. Picture: Google StreetView - Credit: Archant

A “kind and very hardworking” cleaner died while working at the Bannatyne health club pool in Kilburn, an inquest heard today.

Kamal Al-Hirsi died on October 10 last year while on duty at the health club in Greville Road, jurors were told.

In CCTV footage shown at the hearing, he is seen in the pool, where he completes some cleaning before swimming two lengths. When he reaches the end of his second length, the 56-year-old moves towards the side of the pool before submerging.

Minutes later, a gym member can be seen noticing him at the bottom of the pool, and the camera captures frantic efforts to revive him.

The man, referred to as Gaz during proceedings, this morning told the court his horror at realising what had happened.

“I thought he was fooling around,” he said, “like holding his breath under water. We then realised something terrible had happened.”

Gaz is seen lifting Kamal out of the water where a member of staff, along with gym member Judith Lonsdale, gave CPR.

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When Mr Al-Hirsi’s brother asked Gaz why he didn’t intervene earlier, he said: “I’m sorry. This will stay with me forever. If I can go back and do something different, I would.”

Presiding, senior coroner Mary Hassell heard that Bannatyne’s policy is not to have a full-time lifeguard on poolside duty. Witnesses also told the court that Mr Al-Hirsi, who lived in Hendon Way, wasn’t showing any signs of being ill beforehand.

In his evidence, former anaesthatist and current gym member Dr Michael Scallan described checking Kamal’s pupils and seeing they were “fixed and dilated”.

He added: “This is a sign of a lack of oxygen for three to five minutes, and shows serious brain injury.”

The paramedic who attended the scene is expected to give evidence tomorrow.