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Djouce summit track to the Wicklow Way Flickr/JimmyHarris
Sally Gap

Woman who won €40k in damages after Wicklow fall faces questions over version of events

Teresa Wall says he fall was caused by a hole in old railway sleepers.

A WOMAN WHO fell while walking on a boardwalk on the Wicklow Way has rejected giving a different version of how she says the accident happened.

Teresa Wall told Justice Michael White at the High Court that she fell after her foot had snagged in a hole in one of the old railway sleepers that are part of a boardwalk close to the JB Malone memorial on the Sally Gap to Djouce trail near Roundwood.

She rejects claims she had told an official with National Parks and Wildlife Service in a phone conversation some days after the accident that she had tripped on some chicken wire.

The accident occurred around 4pm on 6 August 2013 when and she and her husband were coming down the mountain after a long walk on a boardwalk that was placed on the lands by the NPWS.

The 60-year-old was giving evidence on the second day of the NPWS’s appeal against a Circuit Court finding, which has significant implications for Ireland’s national parks, that the NPWS was negligent and must pay her €40,000 damages.

Under cross-examination from Brian Murray SC for the NPWS Wall accepted having phone conversations with employees with the NPWS on 14 August.

She denied telling NWPS District Conservation Officer Enda Mullen in a phone conversation that the accident happened after she tripped on chicken wire that had been on the sleepers.

She also denied telling Mullen she was unable, due to her injuries, to go on a holiday that day to Slovakia or that she asked the NWPS about compensation.

Painkillers, antibiotics and valium 

Wall did accept that on the same date she phoned the State Claims Agency. She told counsel she did that because she “wanted to know where she stood.”

At time of the phone calls she said she was on painkillers, antibiotics and valium.

An experienced hill walker of many years the 59-year-old described the boardwalk as being ” very dangerous” and that she had contacted the NPWS over her concern of a risk to other walkers .

In her evidence, Enda Mullen said she spoke by telephone to an “upset” Teresa Wall on 14 August and wrote down details given to her on an accident form.

Wall did not say to her she tripped and fell because of a hole in one of the sleepers but told her she had tripped on wire.

Under cross examination from Louis McEntagart SC, Mullen said she sent out a park ranger to the location of the accident. No hazardous wire was found on the route by the ranger.

Routine practice

However, Mullen did not accept council’s assertion that the ranger was dispatched to investigate due to an obligation on the part of the NPWS towards Wall. Rather it was done as a matter of routine practice, she said.

Teresa Wall from Rathingle Cottages, Swords, Co Dublin said she suffered a gash to her right knee which required seven stitches.

Last April, Judge Jacqueline Linnane at Dublin Circuit Court said Wall was entitled to €40,000 damages plus her legal costs.

Judge Linnane said it was clear from the evidence before her that the boardwalk had been made up of second-hand, wooden railway sleepers that were badly rotted.

Reasonable care had not been taken to maintain the boardwalk in a safe condition and this failure was responsible for the injuries.

The NPWS appealed the decision to the High Court. The hearing continues on Friday.

Read: Parks service appeals €40,000 payout for woman who fell while hillwalking >

Read: Walker who fell and cut her knee while hiking Wicklow Way wins €40k in damages >

Aodhan O Faolain