Monday 11 December 2017

Hillwalker awarded €40k for Wicklow Way fall denies giving different version of accident

Teresa Wall pictured at the Four Courts for her Circuit Civil Court action for damages. Photo: Courts Collins
Teresa Wall pictured at the Four Courts for her Circuit Civil Court action for damages. Photo: Courts Collins

Aodhan O'Faolain

A woman who fell while walking on a boardwalk on the Wicklow Way has rejected giving a different version of how she says the accident happened in a subsequent phone conversation with a staff member of the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS).

Teresa Wall told High Court she fell and her foot had snagged in a hole in one of the old railway sleepers which made up a boardwalk close to the JB Malone memorial on the Sally Gap to Djouce trail near Roundwood. 

She rejects claims she had told a NPWS in a phone conversation some days after the accident that she had tripped on some chicken wire.

The accident occurred around 4pm on August 6, 2013 when and she and her husband were coming down the mountain after a long walk on a boardwalk, placed on the lands by the NPWS.

Mrs Wall was giving evidence on the second day of the NPWS's appeal against a Circuit Court finding, which has significant implications for Ireland's national parks, that the NPWS was negligent and must pay her €40,000 damages.

Under cross examination from Brian Murray SC for the NPWS Ms Wall accepted having phone conversations with employees of the NPWS on August 14.

While some of the details were correct some were inaccurate Ms Wall denied telling NWPS District Conservation Officer Enda Mullen in a phone conversation that the accident happened after she tripped on chicken wire that had been on the sleepers.

She also denied telling Ms Mullen she was unable, due to her injuries, to go on a holiday that day to Slovakia or that she asked the NWPS about compensation.

Ms Wall did accept that on the same date she phoned the State Claims Agency.

She told counsel she did that because she "wanted to know where she stood."  At time of the phone calls she said she was on pain killers anti-biotics and valium."

An experienced hill walker of many years Mrs Wall described the boardwalk as being " very dangerous" and that she had contacted the NPWS over her concern of a risk to other walkers .

In her evidence, Ms Mullen said she spoke by telephone to Ms Wall on August 14 who she described as being "upset."  Ms Mullen said she wrote down details given to her by Ms Wall on an accident form.

Mrs Wall did not say to her she tripped and fell because of a hole in one of the sleepers.

Ms Wall told her she had tripped on wire, and had also spoken about not being able to go to Slovakia and that Mrs Walls did not have insurance to cover her inability to go on holiday.

Under cross examination, Ms Mullen said she sent out a park ranger to the location of the accident.  No hazardous wire was found on the route by the ranger.

Mrs Wall from Rathingle Cottages, Swords, Co Dublin said she suffered a gash to her right knee which required seven stitches.

She claims the NPWS permitted a defect to be present in in the boardwalk where the timber had rotted away, created a tripping hazard, left the boardwalk in a unsafe condition and created a public nuisance at the site.

The claims are denied.

The NPWS says Ms Wall contributed to her injuries by not looking where she was going and was the author of her own misfortune.

The hearing continues.

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