Golf director jailed for manslaughter over ball collector's lake death

Dale Pike employed Gareth Pugh, who had learning difficulties and no qualifications for diving, to retrieve golf balls from lake.

Andy Roberts's picture
Mon, 10 Jul 2017

Dale Pike was jailed for 32 months after pleading guilty to manslaughter by gross negligence.


A golf company director has been jailed over the manslaughter of a man with learning difficulties who drowned as he dived into a murky lake to retrieve lost golf balls.

Dale Pike, 25, "stood and watched" as Gareth Pugh dived into the lake with a weighted belt to fish out balls.

Mr Pugh's body was found in the water at Peterstone Lakes Golf Club, near Newport, after he lost his breathing equipment and drowned in February 2016.

Pike received 32 months after admitting manslaughter by gross negligence.

The court was told the safety measures put in place by Pike were inadequate.

Mr Pugh was using a flotation device and air compressor while searching the lake for balls

Iwan Jenkins, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “Dale Pike stood by and watched as Gareth entered the water knowing that safety regulations were being breached. His deceit and callousness resulted in Gareth losing his life.

“There was clear evidence Pike had made inquiries with legitimate dive operators to cost this activity but he chose not to use them, instead falsely claiming to the golf club that he was a qualified commercial diver with his own equipment.”

He had been underwater for some time when Pike realised something had gone wrong and the emergency services were called. His body was eventually retrieved from the lake 70 minutes after he went in.

Pugh had collected 341 golf balls in the 2.4m (8ft) deep lake.

It would have cost about £1,000 a day to hire a diving company. Instead Pike paid Pugh, who had been diagnosed as having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning difficulties, between £20 and £40 a day. The balls would then be cleaned and sold online.

Judge Keith Thomas said: “Mr Pugh was an unsuitable contender for the diving work you employed him to undertake, but you allowed him to take those risks to make a quick buck.

“The risk of death or serious injury was obvious to you, but your cavalier attitude towards safety was the cause of Mr Pugh’s death.”