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Girl (7) is awarded €20k after 'gates closed on her neck'

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Layla’s mum Joanne O’Neill. Pic: Collins Courts

Layla’s mum Joanne O’Neill. Pic: Collins Courts

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Layla’s mum Joanne O’Neill. Pic: Collins Courts

A passer-by, hearing the screams of a seven-year-old girl whose head and neck were trapped in electric gates, helped in forcing them open and freeing her, the Circuit Civil Court heard yesterday.

Layla O'Neill, now aged 14, was awarded €20,000 over the incident on June 18, 2014.

Barrister Alannah McGurk told Judge Kathryn Hutton that the terrifying incident took place a short distance from Layla's home in an apartment block at Marrsfield Avenue, Clongriffin, Dublin 13.

Ms McGurk said Layla had been playing with friends near an underground car park at the apartments and had gone to retrieve a ball when the electric gates started to close.

"The gates closed on Layla's neck, trapping her by the head," Ms McGurk told the court.

"A workman had heard Layla scream and shouted for help, alerting her father."

She said that between them the two men had succeeded in forcing the gates open far enough to release Layla.

Ms McGurk said Layla had been taken by ambulance under spinal protection to Temple Street Children's Hospital with a suspected head injury.

She had been treated for abrasions to her neck and shoulders. She was detained overnight for observation and discharged the following day.

Ms McGurk said Layla had afterwards suffered from pain to both sides of her neck and to her left shoulder, which had been bruised.

Ms McGurk said Layla's physical injuries had cleared up after about three weeks. She had continued to suffer psychologically from recurring nightmares but was now fully recovered.

Layla perceived the incident as life-threatening and had suffered post-traumatic stress.

Responsible

Layla, through her mother Joanne O'Neill, sued Pierse Contracting (In Receivership) with a registered address at Birmayne House, Mulhuddart, a company responsible for the construction, development, control and operation of the electric gates.

Fieldmark Management Company, of Mespil Road, Dublin 4, was a joint defendant.

Ms McGurk said the defendants had offered Layla a settlement of €20,000, which she recommended to the court and which Judge Hutton approved.