Damages claim for child's graveside injury in Dublin cemetery thrown out

Ray Managh

Published 15/07/2014|12:54

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A two-year-old child, whose thumb became stuck in a bouquet holder after a visit to his grannies grave, had to have the metal flower oasis cut off his hand by hospital staff, a court heard today.

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Judge Jacqueline Linnane, in the Circuit Civil Court, threw out a €38,000 damages claim brought by Tadgh Knowles’ mother, Anita, against Fingal County Council, owners of Fingal cemetery.

Anita Knowles told the court that on Sunday September 4, 2011, she and Tadgh, then aged two years and eight months, had visited her mother’s grave in the cemetery.

As they were leaving Tadgh had picked up the flower oasis from the ground beside a bin which was overflowing with debris from the graves and got his right thumb stuck in one of the holes.

She could not get it off his hand and had taken him home where further attempts to remove it had failed.  Tadgh had been brought by ambulance to the emergency department of Temple Street Children’s Hospital.

Ms Knowles, of Tonlegee Drive, Raheny, Dublin, said hospital staff had used a metal cutter to remove it.

The court heard there was a superficial laceration to the base of Tadgh’s right thumb but an X-ray revealed his thumb was normal.  He had steristrips applied and had been discharged.

A month later he had been examined by a consultant in paediatric emergency medicine when examination showed a small residual mark at the base of the thumb.

Ms Knowles claimed the local authority was under a duty not to expose her son to any risk of injury.

Judge Linnane told barrister Adrianne Fields, counsel for Fingal County Council, that the incident had been an accident which the local authority staff could not have foreseen. Ms Fields said there had been no valid criticism of the council’s cleaning and care practices in the cemetery.

Caretaker Richard Skelly said he worked in the graveyard daily except on a Sunday.

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