Sunday 20 January 2019

'I was like Elephant Man after club pierced my skull' - golfer

Amateur golfer John Moroney
Amateur golfer John Moroney

An Irish amateur golfer holidaying in Spain had the shaft of a golf club embedded in the back of his head when an out-of-control Spanish taxi somersaulted into a ravine, the Circuit Civil Court has heard.

John Moroney said the incident had left him with such severe injuries that he looked "like something out of The Elephant Man movie".

Mr Moroney's barrister, Shane English, told Mr Justice Raymond Groarke that two other Co Louth golfers were also injured in the incident, which happened only minutes after the trio had left La Manga Golf Club.

They are suing two Spanish car insurance companies.

Mr Moroney said that in September 2010, he and his friends Michael Lynch and Mark Lawless had just finished a round of golf at La Manga and hired a taxi to take them to their hotel.

"The driver took off very quickly, even before we had time to put our seatbelts on," said 53-year-old Mr Moroney.

"He continued to drive at an alarming pace and hit a crash barrier as he tried to overtake another car in the middle of the road."

Mr Moroney said he had been knocked unconscious and woke up to find himself strapped to a wheelchair at the local Santa Maria hospital, where a surgeon had operated to remove part of a golf club shaft from the back of his head.


Mr English told the judge that the taxi had overturned and toppled into a seven-metre-deep water run-off ravine.

Mr Lynch and Mr Lawless had also been injured, but not as badly as their friend.

Mr Moroney said he had obviously been heavily medicated, probably with morphine, by the time he recovered consciousness.

He remembered, following an operation, having been shown the grip and part of a broken golf club shaft which the surgeon told him he had removed from the back of his head.

He had been left with a permanent three-inch scar at the base of his scalp and had soft tissue injuries to his face, arms, shoulder, shins, ribs and chest.

"The bruising around my left eye was so bad that I looked like something out of The Elephant Man movie," he said.

"Even today I suffer pain in my left knee, especially during the onset of cold weather. I have to strap it up and take painkillers if necessary when playing golf."

Mr Lawless (49) said he had been knocked out in the crash and found his unconscious friends on top of him. He had been covered in blood.

Mr Lynch (53) said it was an "unbelievable, frightening experience" and to this day he would experience back spasms.

Barrister Cormac MacNamara raised a legal point on the question of whether or not the court would be restricted under Spanish law in its assessment of damages and the judge reserved judgment on all issues.

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