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13 May 2014, 14:06
Two people who couldn't swim died in an Essex hotel pool which wasn't being monitored by lifeguards or security cameras.
31 year old Komba Kpakiwa and 22 year old Josephine Foday died at the four star Down Hall Country House Hotel in Hatfield Heath on April 27th last year.
Miss Foday, from Plumstead, south east London, had celebrated her birthday the previous day. The pair had gone out during the day before returning to the hotel.
An inquest in Chelmsford today (13th May) heard the pool hadn't been manned and a CCTV camera which covered the area was broken.
Fellow guest Marcel Haniff, from Hertfordshire, said he had seen the pair splashing around in the pool that evening. He assumed it was "horseplay" and returned to the sauna.
He added: "They seemed to be perfectly healthy and just shouting and playing.'' Seven minutes later, he came out again he saw two bodies lying in the water.
"Initially I thought they were still playing around but I then realised it was too still and something was seriously wrong,'' he added.
"There was a murder mystery weekend at the hotel so I thought it may still be a prank.
"I ran back to the reception to tell them what had happened.
"I wish I had spent another 10 seconds or come to a different conclusion.''
The inquest heard that neither of the pair could swim.
Caroline Burchall, environmental health officer for Uttlesford District Council, said chemical levels in the pool were normal and signs displayed the 2.1 metre depth of the pool.
She was due to meet with managers to discuss their risk assessment and did not know the CCTV monitor, kept in a cupboard with other screens, was not continuously viewed.
A post-mortem examination found both died from drowning and police concluded there were no suspicious circumstances.
Miss Foday had lived with her grandmother since arriving in England from her native Sierra Leone in 2001.
Mr Kpakiwa, from Erith, Kent, was married with two children.
It is understood the pair were in a relationship.
The inquest is due to last three days.