Northern Ireland

Keady boy gets £20,000 damages for lamp-post injury

High Court

A County Armagh boy who may have been swinging from a lamp-post when it collapsed and sliced off part of his finger is to receive £20,000 damages.

The High Court ruled the compensation was halved due to his likely actions contributing to the injuries.

It happened during a street game with friends near his home in Keady in August 2013.

The plaintiff, who was 12 at the time and who is not being named, sued the Department for Infrastructure.

Mr Justice Maguire said: "He was probably abusing the road furniture at the time of the accident and was at an age when he should have known better."

The boy had been playing 'tip the can', where participants try to reach and touch a lamp-post without being caught by one of the group assigned the role of searcher.

According to his evidence, he arrived back to the base first, climbed onto a nearby electric box and touched the post.

Lost fingertip

The plaintiff claimed an arm of the steel fixture suddenly collapsed and fell down, striking his hand and shearing off the tip of a middle finger.

Searches located the missing part wedged between the steel and plastic of the lamp casing.

Although it was sent to hospital by ambulance along with the plaintiff, he lost the fingertip.

Based on the disfigurement and impact on his ability to play Gaelic football and other sports, the claim for damages was valued at £40,000.

Precarious

Consulting engineers assessed the lamp-post as being in a poor state of repair, with its condition described as "precarious".

However, both experts believed that merely playing the game, without any use of force by the youths, would have been unlikely to cause the accident.

The court also heard photographs on the plaintiff's Facebook page showed him hanging off the pole of a road sign nearly a year previously.

Mr Justice Maguire said he was unable to accept the arm came down as a coincidental event.

"On balance, the court believes that the most likely explanation for this accident is that it was probably some act of the plaintiff vis a vis the lamp standard which triggered the accident," he held.

"This may have been him swinging on or climbing it."

He found support for the potential explanation in "the plaintiff's apparent interest, judged by his Facebook postings, in playing himself or observing others playing in a manner which involves swinging or climbing on street furniture"

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