€150k award for brain injury caused by mobile phone attack

A 21-year-old left with a brain injury after he was struck on the head with a mobile phone six years ago was yesterday awarded €150,000 damages in the High Court.

Peter Kavanagh, a grade A student, was only 15 years of age when he was hit in an unprovoked attack at Wentworth Place, Wicklow, on May 6, 2006.

He suffered a serious brain injury, paralysis to one side of his body, and the loss of his peripheral vision, meaning he will never be able to drive a car. He spent weeks in hospital and eight months in rehabilitation.

In the High Court yesterday, Mr Kavanagh said he accepted an apology by his attacker, Anthony Murphy.

Making the award, Mr Justice Peter Charleton noted Mr Kavanagh had shown extraordinary character in coping with his injuries.

Mr Kavanagh sued Mr Murphy, with an address at New Houses, Ballyguile, Wicklow, as a result of the injuries he sustained in the attack. Mr Murphy 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 said Mr Murphy reiterated his apology and accepted he was responsible.

Mr Justice Charleton said he was sure Mr Murphy regretted what happened. For a very short time their lives came together and it ends up in a horrible situation for Peter Kavanagh and a jail sentence for Mr Murphy, he said.

The case was before the court for assessment of damages only.

Mr Kavanagh described the attack, which occurred while he was walking with a group of friends in Wicklow. Another group came up behind them and there was shouting at the back of the group.

“I said I did not do anything,” said Mr Kavanagh. “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 gardaí. He fell asleep and when he woke he had a severe pain down his side. He was rushed to Beaumont Hospital, where he had surgery for a brain bleed and, after several weeks, was transferred to the National Rehabilitation Unit, where he spent eight months.

Before the attack, the court heard, Mr Kavanagh was top of his class in maths and science and hoped to study veterinary science or medicine.

He said after the attack he struggled in school and had to drop Irish and French for the Leaving Cert. The court heard he also has difficulty processing information quickly. He said he did well in the Leaving Cert, but he would have done much better if he had not been injured.

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.

Making the award, Mr Justice Charleton said he was obliged to have regard to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board Book of Quantum. In circumstances where somebody’s life has changed such at Mr Kavanagh’s, money could be seen as futile, in that nothing cannot return him to his previous state.


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