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Thursday 21 November 2019

Toilet aerosol burnt like 'flamethrower', clubber tells court

Nurse Sam Clarke Kavanagh leaving the Four Courts yesterday
Nurse Sam Clarke Kavanagh leaving the Four Courts yesterday
Burn injuries on her right hand

A nurse has told the High Court that when she sprayed dry shampoo in the toilets of a Dublin nightclub the aerosol turned into a "flamethrower".

Sam Clarke Kavanagh (27) said the flames hit her hair and she had to throw the aerosol down the toilet, where it continued to spew flames.

Ms Clarke Kavanagh, of Sandymount Road, Sandy-mount, is suing the former operators of the Bronze bar and nightclub, saying she suffered burns to her right hand and face and singed her hair, eyelashes and eyebrows.

Candle

She says the dry shampoo was one of a number of toiletries in a box.

She has also claimed that a lit candle was in the area and the aerosol spray ignited.

The then owners of the Bronze bar and nightclub, in Lower Baggot Street, Dublin, have claimed the dry shampoo was not supplied by them and could have been left there by another customer.

The venue has changed ownership since the 2015 incident, the court heard.

Opening the case, Ms Clarke Kavanagh's counsel, Michael Byrne, said it was a very terrifying incident and there was a naked candle beside the sink.

"The aerosol turned into a flamethrower and flame continued to shoot out," he said.

Mr Byrne said a selfie taken before the incident showed Ms Clarke Kavanagh has a small handbag with her "which wasn't big enough to hold a lipstick, never mind an aerosol spray".

He said his client was off work for seven weeks after the accident.

Ms Clarke Kavanagh told the court she went to the nightclub to attend a friend's birthday celebration.

She went with another friend, and when they got there at around 11pm they ordered drinks and then headed to the toilets.

Asked by her counsel if she had brought the aerosol of dry shampoo into the nightclub, the witness said she does not carry dry shampoo with her.

She said she made a beeline for the products and sprayed the dry shampoo.

"It very quickly became a flamethrower. I stupidly tried to blow it out and it hit my hair," Ms Clarke Kavanagh told the court.

"The flame continued to come out. I threw it down the toilet and the flames were still going on."

The fire alarm went off, she said.

Cross-examined by Colm Condon SC, for the nightclub owners, Ms Clarke Kavanagh said she did not believe that another customer left the dry shampoo behind.

He asked why she went into the toilets with her friend if she was not going to use the facilities herself.

"Girls go in packs of two," she replied.

Ms Clarke Kavanagh is suing Hilda and Jon Conway, of Claremont Road, Sandymount, the then owners of the venue, over the incident on December 4, 2015.

Unsafe

She has claimed that the bathroom facilities at the nightclub were rendered hazardous and unsafe because of the presence of naked flame candles and highly flammable aerosol cosmetic products in close proximity.

It is further claimed there was an alleged failure to supply non-flammable aerosol cosmetic products and use electronic candles.

The claims are denied, and it is contended by the nightclub side that it did not supply the aerosol spray.

It is also alleged there was contributory negligence on the part of the nurse because she used the aerosol spray near a candle and she was the author of her own misfortune.

The case continues.

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