Saturday, 25 September 2021

Blind rower who fell from window sues owner

A BLIND man who fell out of a window at his friends? home in Henley was left paralysed and dependent on care, the High Court heard

A BLIND man who fell out of a window at his friends? home in Henley was left paralysed and dependent on care, the High Court heard.

Mark Pollock, 39, is suing Enda and Madeline Cahill for millions of pounds after the 25ft plunge at their home in Remenham Lane during the royal regatta in July 2010.

The Cahills deny the accident was in any way their fault.

Mr Pollock, from Dublin, was staying with the couple when he fell through the window of his second floor bedroom on to the patio, suffering catastrophic spinal injuries.

The former Commonwealth Games rowing medallist was left paralysed from the waist down and confined to a wheelchair.

He told the court that he had no memory of the accident but he was probably on his way to the bathroom and was ?disorientated? and ?tripped out the window?.

Martin Murphy, who shared the bedroom with Mr Pollock, told the court: ?We were two men sharing a room in hot weather, so I am sure we would have opened the window.?

Christopher Wilson-Smith QC, for Mr Pollock, said: ?It is common ground that the defendants owed Mr Pollock a duty of care. This accident was caused because the window was left open.

?Mark Pollock is a remarkable man and he has achieved a great deal and he will no doubt continue to excel as far as he can.

?But he was blind, he was disabled and he needed help. He needed others to act as his eyes and communicate with him.?

He said there was no evidence that Mr Pollock had been sleep-walking or believed he was climbing out of a cabin or hatch on a boat ? the adventurer had returned from the Round Ireland Yacht Race about 10 days before the incident.

Mr Wilson-Smith said Mr Pollock was asleep in his bed snoring minutes before the accident.

?He was not waving at people below or anything like that,? he said. ?Had he been at the window trying to climb out it would have been immediately obvious to those below.?

He said the Cahills should have properly familiarised Mr Pollock with the inside of his room and warned him to be careful that the windows were open.

?Should a blind man have been left in a room with the windows of the property open when he had not been walked through the room, when he had not been given any warning?? said Mr Wilson-Smith.

?I put a question to Mrs Cahill: would you have left a child up there??

He said Mr Pollock was not taking legal action against his friends lightly but added: ?It is right he does so if our case is right.?

Stephen Grime QC, for the Cahills, said the case was ?very unusual, most unhappy case and tragic in many ways? but argued that Mr Pollock?s claim should be dismissed.

He said: ?We say this was a freak combination of circumstances which no single person who was involved at or around the time would have foreseen and for which no one can or should be blamed. To reach a contrary conclusion does require an extensive use of hindsight.?

He said the possibilities were that Mr Pollock had leaned out of the window or that he had been sleepwalking, neither of which would involve any negligence by the Cahills.

Mr Grime asked why either Mr Pollock or the couple should have thought the window was a risk to him.

He said it was unfair to say that Mrs Cahill ignored the risk, adding: ?She did not perceive the window as a risk ? she can?t be blamed in any way for that.?

The court heard that Mr Pollock had limited his damages claim to the amount which could be recovered under the Cahills? household insurance with the intention of ensuring that the couple did not have to pay out themselves.

The judge Mr Justice William Davis reserved judgement.

Mr Pollock, the first blind man to race to the South Pole, lost his sight at the age of 22 when his retinas became detatched but went on to win bronze and silver medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

Undeterred by this handicap, he embarked on a number of adventures, including crossing Antarctica in sub-zero temperatures, running six marathons in a week and racing in desert lowlands of the Syrian African Rift Valley.

Mr Pollock now works as a motivational speaker.

Mark Pollock

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