News Courts

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Brain-damaged rugby player's school 'didn't want him to stay'

Tim Healy

Published 06/03/2014 | 02:30

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Neville Lucas leaving court with his mother Michelle. Picture: Courtpix
Neville Lucas leaving court with his mother Michelle. Picture: Courtpix

THE mother of a young man left brain damaged after a schools rugby match wept after she told a court about her distress at being told he could not stay in the school he had played for.

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Lucas Neville (22), who acted in the film 'Angela's Ashes' prior to his rugby injuries, is suing his former school St Michael's College and a Dublin hospital and seeking damages of €5m.

In her testimony, Michelle Neville said her son was "not himself" and was having difficulties when he returned to the school when still receiving therapy for his injuries.

He had wanted to take a couple of Leaving Certificate subjects, Ms Neville said.

She was "upset" when later phoned by the school and told it would be better if he didn't stay, she said.

The court heard he was later home schooled for a time before getting a place in another school.

Mrs Neville was giving evidence in the continuing action by Mr Neville, now aged 22, of Pembroke Lawns, Ballsbridge, who claims St Michael's owed him a duty of care while he was engaged in sporting activities on behalf of the school.

At the close of her day-long period in the witness box, Mrs Neville was wiping back tears.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan has heard that Mr Neville was called from the subs' bench to play in the last few minutes of a match between St Michael's and St Mary's on November 28, 2009, although he had accidently suffered concussion two weeks earlier during training.

Mr Neville then collapsed at the side of the pitch after suffering a head injury in the match.

The school had assured his mother after the training incident on November 11 that it would implement its protocol whereby students who had suffered head injuries would not be permitted to engage in contact sports for three weeks, the court was told.

Mr Neville has also sued St Vincent's Healthcare Group as owner of St Vincent's Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin, over alleged negligence.

He attended the hospital with concussion on November 11, 2009, and returned on November 15 with headaches and other difficulties. Among the claims against the hospital were negligence arising from failure to carry out a CT head scan on November 15.

Both the school and the hospital have admitted liability but dispute the €5m level of damages sought.

Mrs Neville told her counsel, Denis McCullough, that while Lucas had suffered serious injuries that continued to leave him cognitively and physically impaired, he had made great progress beyond the expectations of many experts.

MEMORY

After some home schooling, he sat two subjects in the 2011 Leaving Certificate and failed one. He then attended St Andrew's College from September 2011, who were "very good with him", and he described that "as the best year of his life", Mrs Neville said. Having sat the Leaving Cert in 2011, 2012 and 2013, he passed a total of six subjects and was pursuing a full-time course. He also attends an open course two nights a week in Trinity College. "I think he's brilliant because he's my son and he has made enormous strides in his recovery."

He continued to have gaps in his memory and she was concerned about that and other issues, including that he was bitten by a dog once because he approached an animal most people would have avoided.

They tried to live as normal a life as possible but he didn't socialise as generally understood, partly due to his difficulties and because he did not drink alcohol.

The case continues.

Irish Independent

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