Mark Pollock's fall from window was freak event, court told
Published 25/07/2015 | 02:30
A "freak combination of circumstances", for which nobody was to blame, led to Mark Pollock falling out of a window at his friends' house, the High Court in London has heard.
The blind Irish adventurer is suing Enda and Madeline Cahill for millions after the 25-foot plunge on to the patio of their home in Henley, Oxfordshire during the town's regatta in July 2010.
The 39-year-old was staying with the Cahills, who were good friends of his, when he fell through the window of his upstairs bedroom, suffering catastrophic spinal injuries.
The 39-year-old, from Holywood, Co Down, who lives in Ranelagh in Dublin, told the High Court that he was probably "on his way to the bathroom and was disorientated and tripped out the window".
The accident left him paralysed, confined to a wheelchair and dependent on care.
His legal team, led by Mr Christopher Wilson-Smith QC, says the window should never have been left open. But the Cahills deny it was their fault.
Stephen Grime QC, for the Cahills, told the court it was a "very unusual, most unhappy case and tragic in many ways".
But he urged Mr Justice William Davis to bring a "large injection of common sense" to bear, and dismiss Mr Pollock's claim.
"We say this was a freak combination of circumstances which no single person who was involved at or around the time would have foreseen and for which no one can or should be blamed. To reach a contrary conclusion does require an extensive use of hindsight."
Mr Grime described it as an "ordinary room and ordinary window".
"There is nothing in the slightest degree abnormal about the window or its dimensions or its situated position in the room," he added. Mr Grime said possibilities were that Mr Pollock had leaned out of the window or even that he had been sleepwalking.
Neither of those would involve any negligence by the Cahills, he told the judge.
But Christopher Wilson-Smith QC, for Mr Pollock, told the court an "open window at that height, without warning, constituted a trap. He was snared by that trap and he sustained his injuries".
The QC added: "This is a very simple case. It is common ground that the defendants owed Mr Pollock a duty of care.
"Why does one shut a window on the second floor to protect a blind man? It is to protect him from falling out, and that is exactly what happened here."
Mr Pollock, the first blind man to race to the South Pole, lost his sight in 1998 at the age of 22 but went on to win bronze and silver medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Rowing Championships.
Mr Justice William Davis reserved his decision.