Pool where jockey Campbell Gillies drowned was unsafe, police fear

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into claims that there were inadequate safety precautions at a swimming pool where Scots jump jockey Campbell Gillies drowned.

AN INVESTIGATION has been launched into claims that there were inadequate safety precautions at a swimming pool where Scots jump jockey Campbell Gillies drowned.

The announcement came after a coroner’s report concluded that the Cheltenham Festival winning rider’s death was caused by drowning.

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The 21-year-old from Haddington in East Lothian was on holiday with friends in Kavos on the Greek island of Corfu when he died on Tuesday morning.

Police said he and his friends were in the pool an hour before it was due to open.

The coroner’s report, released yesterday, said the jockey, who would have celebrated his 22nd birthday yesterday, died of drowning and no other causes.

Toxicology tests found he had drunk a “considerable amount” of alcohol.

Greek police added that Corfu island’s public prosecutor had ordered an investigation into the owners of the rented apartments where Mr Gillies was staying, after preliminary charges were levelled against them concerning potentially inadequate safety precautions at the pool.

“The preliminary investigation showed that Mr Gillies and his three holidaying friends with him violated the regulations and entered the pool about an hour earlier than the 9am opening,” said police spokesman George Kostantis. “On the other hand, there was no protective barrier such as a net or iron bars to prevent them from entering. It is therefore a mixed situation which must be investigated further.”

The senior police officer said a toxicological test also revealed that the jockey had drunk a considerable amount of alcohol before he died, but said a second test would be necessary.

“The final conclusion is that it was an accident, and nothing else,” Mr Kostantis said.

The jockey, whose brother Finlay is a professional rugby player with Glasgow Warriors, was one of racing’s emerging talents. He rode Brindisi Breeze to victory in the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival this year and had won 131 races in Britain during his racing career.

Tributes to the jockey continued to appear across the internet yesterday, many marking what would have been his birthday.

Meanwhile, at Carlisle race course, a minute’s silence was held in memory of Mr Gillies, while the jockeys wore black armbands.

On the horse trainer Lucinda Russell’s website, friends and fans expressed their sadness at his death.

Steve Newman wrote: “I’ve been following Campbell for some time, and from his early days as a conditional rider it was clear he was going to develop into a fine jockey. I try and get to Perth and Kelso races and I would always start by looking to see what rides Campbell had. We’ll be going to Perth’s family day in a couple of weeks, but it really will not be the same and it’ll be a sad day without him.”

Harry Brydon said: “To me Campbell was the most natural talent on the jumping circuit I have seen for many years. He was a natural horseman, and horses ran for him – a common trait in very few but the best riders.”

Paul Bittar, chief executive of the British Horseracing Authority, said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic news that Campbell Gillies lost his life in an accident while on holiday in Kavos.

“Campbell was a young, talented and popular rider. At only 21 he had established himself as one of the rising stars in jump racing and enjoyed his first Cheltenham Festival winner this year. Sadly, this tragic accident means that his outstanding potential will remain unfulfilled.”