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Brain-damaged pupil 'was told to move school'

THE mother of a student who suffered brain damage in a school rugby match has told how she was devastated when he was informed he could no longer stay at his school.

Michelle Neville told the High Court her son Lucas was "not himself" and was having difficulties after he returned to St Michael's College, Ailesbury Road, Dublin, while still receiving therapy for his injuries.

She said she was "upset" when the school later phoned her and said it would be best if he moved elsewhere.

Mrs Neville was giving evidence in a damages lawsuit brought by her 22-year-old son, of Pembroke Lawns, Ballsbridge, over brain injuries he suffered while playing rugby for his school.


He argues that St Michael's owed him a duty of care while he was engaged in sporting activities on its behalf.

Mr Justice Sean Ryan heard Mr Neville was called to play as a sub for the last few minutes of a match between St Michael's and St Mary's on November 28, 2009, even though he had suffered a concussion in training two weeks earlier.

After coming on, he sustained a head injury and collapsed on the side of the pitch. The school had assured his mother he would not be allowed to play for three weeks after suffering the original head injury.

Mr Neville has also sued St Vincent's Healthcare Group as owner of St Vincent's Hospital, Elm Park, Dublin, over alleged negligence in his treatment.

He has claimed that after he attended the hospital with the original concussion, doctors failed to carry out a CT scan.

Both the school and the hospital have admitted liability, but they dispute the €5m damages being sought.

During cross-examination yesterday on behalf of the school, Eoghan Fitzsimons SC withdrew his suggestion that it was "obscene" that the payout should include money to reimburse Mrs Neville for time she had spent at the hospital with her son.

Mrs Neville said that hospital staff were very good but "very stretched" and added that she believed her monitoring of her son had helped him get better much quicker.

She also told how she worked part-time and was on social welfare, and so she needed any lost money returned to her.

Cross-examined by Michael Gleeson SC, for the hospital, she agreed that her son, prior to his injuries, acted in films including 32A and Angela's Ashes and had had an agent.

After he was hurt, the family was also given money by the Irish Rugby Football Union to help with his education.

Earlier, Mrs Neville told her counsel, Denis McCullough SC, that while Lucas had suffered serious injuries that had a huge and lasting effect on his cognitive and physical abilities, he had made great progress.

After home schooling, he sat two subjects in the 2011 Leaving Certificate, failing one.

He then attended St Andrew's College, who were so good with her son that he described it as the "best year of his life", Mrs Neville said.

He sat the Leaving Cert three times, passed six subjects and is now pursuing a full-time course and attending an open course two nights a week at Trinity College.


Mrs Neville said she had belief in her son and hoped his progress would continue.

"I think he's brilliant because he's my son and he has made enormous strides in his recovery," she added.

But she also said he continued to have gaps in his memory and understanding, telling how he was once bitten after approaching a dog that most people would have avoided.

And she said that while her son tries to live as normal a life as possible, his difficulties made socialising very hard.

The case resumes on Tuesday.