Teen lost finger during freak accident climbing fence

A teenager had one of his fingers cut off in a freak accident climbing over a fence, a court heard yesterday.

Mateusz Kacper Kaczynski of Tannery Gardens, off Redemption Road, Cork, brought the action against Cork County Council and the case went on throughout yesterday before Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh.

The plaintiff, now 22, was 17 at the time of the accident on September 11, 2010, at the sports court in the municipal park in Carrigaline, Co Cork, where basketball and five-a-side football is played.

Lorraine O’Sullivan, senior counsel for the local authority, said the facility was built by the community for the community and was not taken over by Cork County Council until it was formally approved in safety terms by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. She said there was no accident arising of the particular fence before or after the plaintiff’s accident.

The teenager had gone to retrieve a football which went out over the fence. He kicked the ball back to his friends and then went to climb back over the fence. Dr O’Mahony said that a narrow upright bar in the fence caught a ring worn by the teenager on the second finger of his right hand effectively cutting off the young man’s finger.

The plaintiff’s engineer, Philip O’Doherty, testified yesterday: “If you are going to put a fence around a playground you cannot have protruding bars and it cannot be climbable. Entrapment of people’s limbs and clothing is a huge issue with fencing on playgrounds.”

He said the bars protruding 25 mm above the top were a danger on an 8-foot (2.4 m) fence. He said that being climbable it should not have a hazard on the top.

Questioned by the plaintiff’s senior counsel Seán Lynch about the area being approved by the inspection body, Mr O’Doherty said that the approval of the fence with the protruding bars represented a shortcoming in the safety assessment.

Joseph O’Sullivan, engineer for the defendant, said our local environment was covered with thousands of examples of such fencing.

He said there were four exits from the sports court that would take a young man no more than 20 or 30 seconds to retrieve a ball.

The case continues.


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