Monday 14 October 2019

'It was a tough Christmas' - showbiz journalist sues university over trip at Christmas panto

Kenneth Sweeney, pictured at the Four Courts today after the opening day of his High Court action. Pic:Collins Courts
Kenneth Sweeney, pictured at the Four Courts today after the opening day of his High Court action. Pic:Collins Courts

Tim Healy

A showbiz journalist who claims he dislocated his elbow when he tripped on a step attending a Christmas panto in the Helix Theatre in Dublin has sued in the High Court.

Irish Sun journalist, Kenneth Sweeney, told Mr Justice Michael Hanna he fell on the side aisle steps as he left the performance of Cinderella 30 minutes in to go to the toilet.

Mr Sweeney, who was sitting at the front of the Helix with his family, said he got up to  walk up the steps when he said he did not locate the first step and  fell unexpectedly in to his side.

He said he was immediately in a lot of pain.

He said he was taken to hospital and it emerged he had dislocated his elbow. He was in a cast for eight weeks and was at the table on Christmas Day in plaster.

“It was a tough Christmas," he added.

Mr Sweeney said the second step was lit up but the first step was not.

Mr Sweeney (52) Newtownparks, Skerries, Co Dublin has sued Dublin City University, operators of the Helix over the accident on November 30, 2014.

He has claimed there was an alleged failure to warn users of the stairs of a tripping hazard by proper and adequate warning signs or markings and by proper and adequate illumination.

He has further claimed there was an alleged failure to provide appropriate lighting levels in the premises  so as to allow him to safely ascend the stairs.

The claims are denied.

Mr Justice Hanna said the issue in the case is "was there was a disguised step."

Mr Sweeney told the court he liked to play guitar but has not played since the accident.

Cross examined by Luan O'Braonain SC, for DCU, Mr Sweeney agreed he had been at the Helix on many occasions before.

He agreed he had signed an accident report form as he waited for the ambulance.

Counsel put it to him that the form referred to him “rushing out of the theatre.”

Mr Sweeney said he was going at a normal speed and he did not say he was rushing.

"I was in pain. I had a bone protruding from my elbow. I was in a lot of pain.

"When these questions were being asked I was waiting for the ambulance,” he said.

Mr Sweeney said he saw the light in the second step and he asked why there wasn’t a light on the first step.

“I have a lot of experience of venues at night, I have never seen steps lit in this way,” Mr Sweeney added.

Engineer Karl Searson for the Sweeney side  told the court you want to have lighting to indicate the first step.

“You can’t see the step. It is not visible or discernible,” he commented about the first step of the Helix stairs.

The case continues.

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