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Blind adventurer Mark Pollock's paralysing fall from window was a 'freak' accident, court hears

The Commonwealth Games medal winner and extreme adventurer was left in a wheelchair after the fall

Published 24/07/2015

Mark Pollock in hospital after falling out of a window and breaking his back in 2010
Mark Pollock in hospital after falling out of a window and breaking his back in 2010
Mark Pollock became the first blind man to reach the South Pole
Five years on from his accident, Mark Pollock is dedicated to finding a cure for paralysis

A 'freak combination of circumstances' for which nobody was to blame led to Mark Pollock falling out of a window at his friends' house, the High Court has heard.

The blind adventure is suing Enda and Madeline Cahill for millions after the 25-foot plunge onto the patio of their home in Henley during the town's regatta in July 2010.

The 39-year-old, originally from Holywood Co Down and who now lives in Dublin, was staying with the Cahills, who were good friends of his when he fell through the window of his upstairs bedroom, suffering catastrophic spinal injuries.

He has told London's High Court that he was probably 'on his way to the bathroom and was disorientated and tripped out the window'.

The accident left him paralysed, confined to a wheelchair and dependent on care.

His legal team, led by Mr Christopher Wilson-Smith QC, is blaming Mr and Mrs Cahill, saying the window should never have been left open.

But the Cahills, of Woodview, Remenham Lane, Henley, deny the accident was in any way their fault.

Stephen Grime QC, for the Cahills, today told the court it was a 'very unusual, most unhappy case and tragic in many ways'.

But he urged Mr Justice William Davis to bring a 'large injection of common sense' to bear, and dismiss Mr Pollock's claim.

"We say this was a freak combination of circumstances which no single person who was involved at or around the time would have foreseen and for which no one can or should be blamed.

"To reach a contrary conclusion does require an extensive use of hindsight," the barrister said.

Martin Murphy - who shared the bedroom with Mr Pollock - had told the court: 'We were two men sharing a room in hot weather, so I am sure we would have opened the window'.

And Mr Grime described it as an 'ordinary room and ordinary window'.

"There is nothing in the slightest degree abnormal about the window or its dimensions or its situated position in the room," he added.

"Why should either Mr Pollock before the accident, or Madeline Cahill or Enda Cahill, have thought the window was a risk to him?"

The QC told the court it was 'not fair to say that Mrs Cahill ignored the risk'.

"She did not perceive the window as a risk, she can't be blamed in any way for that," he added.

And, in the light of expert evidence, Mr Grime queried Mr Pollock's theory that he was disorientated, slipped and fell out of the window.

The Commonwealth Games medal winner himself has told the court that he has no memory of the accident.

Mr Grime said other possibilities were that he had leaned out of the window or even that he had been sleepwalking.

Neither of those would involve any negligence by the Cahills, he told the judge.

Mr Pollock, the first blind man to race to the South Pole, lost his sight in 1998 at the age of 22 but went on to win bronze and silver medals at the 2002 Commonwealth Games.

He has also taken part in extreme marathons and Ironman events and, not long before the accident, in June 2010, he completed the 1,400 mile Round Ireland Yacht Race.

The High Court hearing continues.

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