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Dublin: 14°C Tuesday 16 August 2022

"He was snared by that trap" - Adventurer Mark Pollock sues for damages over paralysing fall

He says the decision to take a case against his friends was not taken “lightly” and he wants any damages paid by their insurance.

Image: PA Images

Updated 10.42 pm 

A ‘FREAK COMBINATION of circumstances’ for which nobody was to blame led to Mark Pollock falling out of a window at his friends’ house, the High Court in London has heard.

The blind adventurer is suing Enda and Madeline Cahill for millions after the 25-foot plunge onto the patio of their home in Henley, England during the town’s regatta in July 2010.

The 39-year-old was staying with the Cahills, who were good friends of his, when he fell through the window of his upstairs bedroom, suffering catastrophic spinal injuries.

He has told London’s High Court that he was probably ‘on his way to the bathroom and was disorientated and tripped out the window’.

The accident left him paralysed, confined to a wheelchair and dependent on care.

Pollock lost his sight in 1998 at the age of 22 but went on to win bronze and silver medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

He has also taken part in extreme marathons and Ironman events and, not long before the accident, in June 2010, he completed the 1,400 mile Round Ireland Yacht Race.

Since the fall, Mr Pollock has also helped pioneer use of ‘robotic legs’.

Window left open

His legal team, led by Mr Christopher Wilson-Smith QC, is blaming Mr and Mrs Cahill, saying the window should never have been left open.

But the Cahills, of Woodview, Remenham Lane, Henley, deny the accident was in any way their fault.

Stephen Grime QC, for the Cahills, today told the court it was a ‘very unusual, most unhappy case and tragic in many ways’.

But he urged Mr Justice William Davis to bring a ‘large injection of common sense’ to bear, and dismiss Mr Pollock’s claim.

We say this was a freak combination of circumstances which no single person who was involved at or around the time would have foreseen and for which no one can or should be blamed.

“To reach a contrary conclusion does require an extensive use of hindsight,” the barrister said.

House guests

Martin Murphy – who shared the bedroom with Mr Pollock – had told the court: ‘We were two men sharing a room in hot weather, so I am sure we would have opened the window’.

And Mr Grime described it as an ‘ordinary room and ordinary window’.

“There is nothing in the slightest degree abnormal about the window or its dimensions or its situated position in the room,” he added.

Why should either Mr Pollock before the accident, or Madeline Cahill or Enda Cahill, have thought the window was a risk to him?

The QC told the court it was ‘not fair to say that Mrs Cahill ignored the risk’.

“She did not perceive the window as a risk, she can’t be blamed in any way for that,” he added.

And, in the light of expert evidence, Mr Grime queried Mr Pollock’s theory that he was disorientated, slipped and fell out of the window.

Mr Grime said other possibilities were that he had leaned out of the window or even that he had been sleepwalking.

Neither of those would involve any negligence by the Cahills, he told the judge.

No memory of fall

But Pollock’s legal team disagrees. BBC News reports they argued in court that, for a blind man like Pollock, an “open window at that height, without warning, constituted a trap”.

“He was snared by that trap and he sustained his injuries. This is a very simple case. It is common ground that the defendants owed Mr Pollock a duty of care,” Wilson-Smith QC argued before the judge.

“Should a blind man have been left in a room with the windows of the property open when he had not been walked through the room, when he had not been given any warning?”

The athlete himself has told the court that he has no memory of the accident.

Pollock’s legal team also told the court that he was limiting his claim to the amount covered by the Cahills’ home insurance. He was doing this in an attempt to ensure that they would not have to pay out themselves in the event that he is awarded damages.

In light of Pollock’s desire that the Cahills not be financial liable, the court heard that his decision to take the case was not taken “lightly”.

- Additional reporting by Rónán Duffy 

Read: Mark Pollock sues friends over paralysing fall at their home

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