Wednesday 15 August 2018

'I was so relieved when I heard her cry' - Father feared daughter 'was dead' after table collapsed on her

(l-r) Richard, Ava and Anastasia McNulty, with an address in England, pictured outside the Four Courts after the Circuit Civil Court approved a €25,000 settlement offer for Ava. Pic: Collins Courts
(l-r) Richard, Ava and Anastasia McNulty, with an address in England, pictured outside the Four Courts after the Circuit Civil Court approved a €25,000 settlement offer for Ava. Pic: Collins Courts

Ray Managh

The father of a two-year-old child has told a judge he was relieved to hear his baby cry after a console table toppled on her, because he thought she had been killed.

Richard McNulty, who now resides in England with his wife and three children, was enjoying a three-generation family get-together at Roganstown Holiday Village, just outside Swords, Co Dublin, when the incident occurred.

He and his wife, Anastasia, their children Aaron, Molly and Ava (2) with their grandparents Rosaleen and Anthony McNulty had arranged a week-long break in a house at the Roganstown complex.

Mr McNulty told his barrister Pat Purcell that in April 2012 he was upstairs in a bedroom with his daughter Ava when she walked over to a console table and tried to open a drawer which brought the table down on top of her.

“I thought she was dead. I was so relieved when I heard her cry,” Mr McNulty told Circuit Court President, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke in the Circuit Civil Court.

He said the incident happened in a split second; so fast that he was unable to reach her and stop the table falling.  The table had struck her on the face and left arm, breaking it in two places.  She had a cosmetic mark under her right eye but this cleared after several weeks. She had been taken to hospital.

Mr Purcell, who appeared with Hennessy and Perrozzi solicitors for Ava, said her €38,000 damages claim against Roganstown (Holiday Village) Management Limited was based on negligence due to the console table being an inherently unstable piece of furniture in a bedroom scenario.

Forensic engineer Donal Terry told the court the narrow topped console table with three drawers just under the table top was a free standing piece of furniture more usually positioned in narrow hallways.

“It was top heavy and required relatively little horizontal tipping force to tip it forward to a point at which it collapsed onto the floor and the child,” Mr Terry said.

He told Mr Purcell it was not fixed to the wall and had an inherent instability making it unsuitable for use on carpet in a bedroom.  It was without doubt an “over-turning hazard,” Mr Terry told the court.

Ava and her parents had travelled back to Dublin for the hearing from their home at Haynes close, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.   Following evidence as to liability Mr John Kerr, counsel for the holiday village, told the court the defendant was making a settlement offer of €25,000 to Ava.

Judge Groarke, approving the settlement by  Roganstown Management Limited, which has a registered address at Beacon South Quarter, Sandyford, Dublin, said the table was entirely unsuitable for a bedroom where one would find children.

“It is inherently dangerous in the presence of children in a bedroom,” he said. “It seems to me that as a matter of common sense this incident was entirely predictable.”

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