An inmate who came "a cropper on the crapper" yesterday lost his attempt to sue for negligence.
Peter Duff used a mobile phone to take photographs in his own cell for evidence in a €38,000 damages case after falling from the toilet.
Judge Joseph Mathews said Duff had come "a cropper on the crapper" after hearing that he was not supposed to have the phone in Wheatfield Prison, Dublin. And Duff failed to convince the court that the Prison Service and the State were negligently responsible for the fall.
Duff admitted that he was not supposed to have a mobile phone in his cell. He said that while it was not unlawful at the time, it had been contrary to prison rules.
Duff (34), of Lally Road, Ballyfermot, Dublin, tried to use the pictures in his claim for damages after falling from the toilet while trying to remove toilet paper from an air vent.
He told the Circuit Civil Court that a prison officer who had inspected his cell in April 2006 had directed him to remove the paper, which had been placed there to deaden noise and reduce draughts.
While the prison officer had not directly instructed him to stand on the toilet to clear the vent, he had taken it for granted this was what was expected.
Duff said he had often seen prison officers stand on the stainless steel lavatories in cells when they carried out cell searches, and particularly when they checked out air vents.
He said he did not clear the air vent on the day he was instructed to do so, but did so a day or so later when he was alone in his cell. He stood on the loo, which fell over because it was not adequately secured to the wall. He fell off the loo and suffered a large abrasion to his right shin.
Duff said he did not take photographs of the damaged toilet on the day of the accident. He was moved to another cell but "nipped in" to his old cell when the toilet was being replaced and took pictures of the lop-sided loo.
Having pulled the plug on Duff's claim, Judge Mathews said he would not award legal costs against him. Duff had mistakenly assumed he had been expected to stand on the loo but had failed to prove his case.