Man gets €150,000 damages for unprovoked teenage attack
A 21-YEAR old man who was left with a brain injury after he was struck on the head with a mobile phone in an unprovoked attack six years ago was awarded €150,000 damages in the High Court.
Peter Kavanagh, a Grade A student, was only 15 years of age when he was hit as he walked with friends at Wentworth Place, Wicklow town on May 6,2006.
He suffered a serious brain injury, paralysis to one side of his body as well as the loss of his peripheral vision which means he will never be able to drive a car. The young man had to spend weeks in hospital and eight months in rehabilitation after the attack.
In the High Court today, Mr Kavanagh said he accepted the apology of his attacker Anthony Murphy, who was only a few years older than him at the time of the incident.
Making the award, Mr Justice Peter Charleton noted Peter Kavanagh had shown extraordinary character in how he had coped with his injuries.
The Judge said it is the highest quality a person can have and goes beyond health and achievement. Many he said struggle to and would like to have it but Mr Kavanagh, the judge said has it already.
Mr Kavanagh of Wicklow town had sued Anthony Murphy with an address at New Houses , Ballyguile, Wicklow as a result of the injuries he sustained in the attack.
The court heard that Mr Murphy had pleaded guilty in Wicklow Circuit Court in May 2009 to assaulting Mr Kavanagh causing him serious harm and also assaulting another person and was jailed for three years.
He has served his sentence and his solicitor yesterday told the Judge, Mr Murphy reiterated the apology he had previously tendered and accepts entirely he is responsible. The case was before the court for assessment of damages only.
Mr Kavanagh in evidence described the attack when he was walking with his friends in Wicklow when another group came up behind them. There was shouting at the back of the group.
"I said I did not do anything. He hit me once with the mobile phone. My vision and hearing went for a split second."
He said when he went home his parents called the gardai. He fell asleep and when he woke he had a severe pain down his side. He was rushed to Beaumont Hospital where he has surgery for a brain bleed and after several weeks transferred to the National Rehabilitation Unit where he had to stay for eight months.
Before the assault he was top of his class in Maths and Science and had high hopes of studying veterinary science or medicine. For a time afterwards he said he was "paranoid it would happen again."
He said after the attack he had a very difficult few years and was struggling with school and had to drop Irish and French as subjects for the Leaving Cert. Te court heard he also has difficulty processing information quickly. He said he did pretty good in the Leaving Cert but he would have done much better if he had not been injured.
"I look forward to life. I think I will reach my goals . It will just take longer," he told Mr Justice Charleton.
Asked by the Judge what kept him going during his long hospitalisation and rehabilitation, Mr Kavanagh answered "determination and stubbornness."
Mr Kavanagh's mother, Margaret said her son, the eldest of three children was an exceptionally bright student who was a Grade A maths student prior to the incident.
"Our world fell apart," she told the court and said her son in hospital looked like he had a massive stroke. Peter, she said had made a better recovery than ever imagined.
Making the award, Mr Justice Charleton said he was obliged to have regard to the the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Book of Quantum.
In circumstances where somebody's life has changed such at Peter Kavanagh's, the Judge said the reward of money could be seen as is futile in that nothing cannot return him to the state he was in.
The judge said he was sure the person who assaulted Mr Kavanagh regrets what happened . For a very short time their lives he said came together and it ends up in a horrible situation for Peter Kavanagh and a jail sentence for Mr Murphy.