Brain injury victim gets €150,000 after phone attack
A 21-YEAR-old man who was left with a brain injury after he was struck on the head with a mobile phone in an unprovoked attack was yesterday awarded €150,000 in damages.
The High Court heard that Peter Kavanagh, who had been a grade A student when he was hit as he walked with friends at Wentworth Place, Wicklow town, on May 6, 2006, spent weeks in hospital and eight months in rehabilitation after the attack.
He suffered a serious brain injury, paralysis to one side of his body and a loss of peripheral vision, which means he will never be able to drive a car.
Making the award, Mr Justice Peter Charleton noted Mr Kavanagh had shown extraordinary character in how he had coped with his injuries.
Mr Kavanagh had sued Anthony Murphy of New Houses, Ballyguile, Co Wicklow, as a result of the injuries he sustained in the attack.
The court heard that Murphy had pleaded guilty in Wicklow Circuit Court in May 2009 to assaulting Mr Kavanagh causing him serious harm and assaulting another person and was jailed for three years. He had served his sentence and his solicitor yesterday reiterated the apology he had previously tendered and accepted his responsibility.
The case was before the court yesterday for assessment of damages only.
Mr Kavanagh in evidence described the attack. He said there was shouting at the back of the group.
"He hit me once with the mobile phone. My vision and hearing went for a split second," he said.
When he went home, his parents called the gardai. He fell asleep and when he awoke he had a severe pain down his side.
He was brought to Beaumont Hospital where he had surgery for a brain bleed and, after several weeks, he was transferred to the National Rehabilitation Unit.
Before the assault he was top of his class and had hoped to study veterinary science or medicine. He said he had some very difficult years after the attack and had struggled with school and had to drop Irish and French as Leaving Cert subjects.
The court heard he also has difficulty processing information quickly. He said he did well in the Leaving Cert but he would have done much better if he had not been injured.
"I look forward to life. I think I will reach my goals . It will just take longer," he told Mr Justice Charleton.
Asked by the judge what kept him going during his long hospitalisation and rehabilitation, Mr Kavanagh answered "determination and stubbornness".