News Courts

Thursday 2 October 2014

Brain-damaged man awarded €3.8m for bottle assault by ex-girlfriend

Tim Healy

Published 12/11/2012 | 16:14

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A MAN left severely brain damaged 12 years ago after his then-girlfriend threw a bottle during a row and hit him on the head has been awarded around €3.8m under a criminal injuries compensation scheme, the High Court has been told.

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Jason Clarke (43) suffered the assault on New Year's Eve, 2000, outside the Blue Light pub in Glencullen, Dublin.



Mr Clarke, who had been studying to be a physiotherapist at the time, suffered a burst blood vessel in his brain, causing him to have two or three strokes. He also lost consciousness which he did not regain for another three months and is now in a wheelchair.



He had been with a group of friends in the pub when a row broke out and his then-girlfriend struck him. The row continued outside the bar and she threw a bottle at him, striking the back of his head, the High Court heard.



She was arrested a month after the incident, pleaded guilty to assault and received a suspended jail sentence.



In 2002, he brought a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal which made a total award of around €3.84m with just over €1m in interim payments already made.



His father Frank, an artist and TV painting instructor, today asked High Court president, Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns, to rule on the adequacy of the award.



In an affidavit, Frank Clarke said he appreciated the difficulties and complexities of the case, but given the severe financial straits which his family faces in attempting to look after Jason, he was asking the court to approve the award.



Asked by the judge whether he was happy with the amount of the award, Mr Clarke, of Fonthill Park, Rathfarnham, Dublin, said it was "a matter of necessity."



In an opinion on the award presented to the court by senior counsel John Shortt, on behalf of Jason, he said their side had calculated that €8.4m would be required to meet his current and future needs and this was what had been sought from the compensation tribunal. It had been estimated by their experts that his future care needs alone would be €4.8m while the tribunal had only awarded €1.89m under this heading.



The amount actually awarded raised the spectre of funds running out in the future as Jason requires full-time care, counsel said.



However, a number of considerations had to be taken into account in deciding whether to accept the total of €3.84m including the limited resources of the compensation scheme which is funded from the public purse, he said. The views of Jason's father had to be taken into account as well as the risk that if the case was to go back before a newly-constituted tribunal, the award might be less, he said.



Mr Shortt told the court an application will be made later to have Jason made a ward of court.



The judge said he had no hesitation in advising that this was a sensible settlement.

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