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Thursday 8 December 2016

Adventurer Mark Pollock suing friends over fall that left him in a wheelchair

Mark Pollock
Mark Pollock

A blind Commonwealth Games medal-winner who was left paralysed after falling from a second-floor window while staying with friends is suing them for millions of pounds in damages.

Extreme adventurer Mark Pollock - the first blind man to race to the South Pole - is suing Enda and Madeline Cahill after the fall on to the patio of their home in Henley, Oxfordshire.

The 39-year-old, from Holywood, Co Down, who lives in Ranelagh, suffered a "catas- trophic spinal cord injury" when he fell, his barrister Christopher Wilson-Smith QC told the High Court in London.

The disaster struck in July 2010, weeks before he was due to marry his fiance, solicitor Simone George.

He fractured his skull, had bleeding on the brain and was left wheelchair-dependent after breaking his back in three places.

Mr Pollock was staying with the Cahills, who were good friends of his, during the Henley Royal Regatta.

On July 2, 2010 he returned home from the exclusive Leander rowing club and went up to bed alone for an early night.

He told the court he does not "remember anything" about falling out of the window, but said the most likely explanation was that he "was on my way to the bathroom and was disorientated and tripped out the window".

Disregarded

Mr Wilson-Smith claimed the Cahills had disregarded a "reasonably foreseeable risk" of their blind friend being seriously injured.

They should have made sure the window remained closed or at least warned Mr Pollock that it was open, he said.

Although it was uncertain who opened it, the barrister argued that, "on the balance of probability", it was one of the Cahills.

Mr Wilson-Smith claimed Mrs Cahill had considered the danger of leaving the window open, but decided not to close it because it was a warm evening.

She "elected to do nothing" which was a "disastrous misjudg- ment", he said.

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

Mrs Cahill (42) told the court she was "worried" about Mr Pollock using the stairs up to his second-floor room, but had not thought the window posed any risk to him.

"If it had crossed my mind for an instant that there was any danger or risk, I would have insisted Mark stay in the conservatory," she said.

"I wouldn't put any guest of mine in a position where they could have an accident."

But she agreed that, "with hindsight", the tearful 42-year-old wished she had closed the window.

The hearing continues.

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