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Tuesday 16 January 2018

'I thought she was dead' - daughter gets €25k after table broke her arm

Ava McNulty, with parents Richard and Anastasia, broke her arm in two places in the accident. Photo: Collins
Ava McNulty, with parents Richard and Anastasia, broke her arm in two places in the accident. Photo: Collins

The father of a little girl has told a judge he was relieved to hear her crying after a console table toppled on her as he thought she had been killed.

Richard McNulty, who now lives in England with his wife and three children, was enjoying a three-generation family get-together at Roganstown Holiday Village, just outside Swords, Co Dublin, when the accident happened.

Drawer

He and his wife Anastasia, their children Aaron, Molly and Ava, who was then aged two, and grandparents Rosaleen and Anthony McNulty had arranged a week-long break in a house at the complex.

Mr McNulty told his barrister, Pat Purcell, that in April 2012 he was upstairs in a bedroom with Ava when she walked over to a console table and tried to open a drawer, which brought the table down on top of her.

"I thought she was dead. I was so relieved when I heard her cry," Mr McNulty told Circuit Court President Mr Justice Raymond Groarke in the civil court.

He said the incident happened in a split second, so fast that he was unable to reach Ava and stop the table falling.

It hit her on the face and left arm, breaking it in two places. She had a cosmetic mark under her right eye but this cleared after several weeks.

Mr Purcell said Ava's €38,000 damages claim against Rogans- town (Holiday Village) Management Limited was based on negligence due to the console table being an inherently unstable piece of furniture in a bedroom scenario.

Forensic engineer Donal Terry told the court the narrow-topped console table with three drawers just under the top was a free-standing piece of furniture more usually positioned in narrow hallways.

"It was top heavy and required relatively little horizontal tipping force to tip it forward to a point at which it collapsed on to the floor and the child," said Mr Terry.

He told Mr Purcell it was not fixed to the wall and had an inherent instability, making it unsuitable for use on carpet in a bedroom.

It was, without doubt, an "overturning hazard", Mr Terry told the court.

Ava and her parents had travelled back to Dublin for the hearing from their home in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire.

Unsuitable

John Kerr, counsel for the holiday village, told the court the defendant was making a settlement offer of €25,000 to Ava.

Judge Groarke, approving the settlement by Roganstown Management Limited, which has a registered address at Beacon South Quarter, Sandyford, Dublin, said the table was entirely unsuitable for a bedroom where one would find children.

"It is inherently dangerous in the presence of children in a bedroom," he said.

"It seems to me that, as a matter of common sense, this incident was entirely predictable."

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