THE family of a schoolgirl who died in a swimming pool last year may take a council to court after an inquest yesterday raised more questions about the tragedy.

Anne-Marie Readshaw, from Ferryhill, County Durham, died while swimming with friends at Spennymoor Leisure Centre, last September.

Sarah Cornbill, a close friend of Anne-Marie's since primary school, noticed the 13-year-old lying motionless on the bottom of the pool.

She pulled her to the surface and dragged her to the side of the pool, as friends called for help. Efforts to revive Anne-Marie were unsuccessful, and she was confirmed dead on arrival at Bishop Auckland General Hospital.

Pathologist Dr Don Senadhira said Anne-Marie had died as a result of drowning and that an epileptic fit could not be ruled out as a likely explanation.

At the time of the incident, one lifeguard was observing the pool but the centre's policy has since been revised, in line with Health and Safety Executive guidelines published a year earlier. The new guidelines recommend one lifeguard per 250 square metres. Spennymoor pool is about 400 square metres.

Graeme Morgan, swimming development officer for Sedgefield Borough Council, said: "At the time, our guidelines were based on the number of people in the pool - one lifeguard to 49 swimmers.

"We were reviewing that policy and have since revised the number of attendants, based on surface area, so there are always two by the pool."

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Coroner Kenneth Howe said: "There is no evidence to suggest anyone is to blame, but I do hope some good can come from this tragedy. It is good to hear that the council revised its attendance policy."

Solicitor Tony Eastwood, representing the family, said: "The family are relieved the inquest has concluded and that Spennymoor Leisure Centre has implemented new standards of pool supervision in line with Health and Safety Executive guidance.

"Unfortunately, they are disappointed with some of the evidence given and are now considering whether further legal action will be taken."

Anne-Marie's grandmother Kathy Conroy, a Ferryhill town councillor, said: "Hopefully, the new policy will prevent another family going through the same suffering.

"But there were a few shocks in the evidence we heard at the inquest, which legal action may help find answers to.

"We agree with the coroner that Anne-Marie's friends, especially Sarah, need to be commended for dealing with such a traumatic event."

Phil Ball, director of leisure services at Sedgefield Borough Council, which runs the sports centre, said: "The coroner said there was no evidence of negligence.

"It was a deeply distressing time for everyone concerned.

"If the family is considering further legal action, it would be inopportune to comment further."