Payout for my fall won't cost friends one penny, says blind adventurer Mark Pollock
A blind adventurer who is set to receive multi-million pound damages after a fall left him paralysed has insisted that the case will not cost his friends a penny.
Mark Pollock, originally from Holywood, Co Down, suffered a serious spinal injury in a 25-foot fall in July 2010 when he was staying with friends Enda and Madeline Cahill in England.
A year earlier he had become the first blind person to trek to the South Pole.
Mark is now to receive compensation from his friends' household insurers to cover the cost of his long-term care. The incident left him in a wheelchair and dependent on care.
Mr Pollock (39), blamed the Cahills for his fall, saying the window should not have been left open.
The judge found that "an open window did create an obvious risk for a blind person, particularly when it was on the second storey of the house with nothing to prevent a fall to the ground below".
Speaking after the ruling, Mr Pollock said: "My claim was made where there was a public liability insurance policy in place to meet the cost of accidents like mine. Most house insurance policies contain such cover for this exact purpose.
"Therefore, the insurance company's solicitors defended the case. My friends did not have to hire their own solicitors or incur any legal costs. They were never at risk of having to compensate me from their own pockets for the costs I bear as a result of my injury."
The accident occurred soon after Mr Pollock returned from the 1,400-mile Round Ireland Yacht Race and weeks before he was to marry his fiancee, Simone George.
Yesterday, after a week-long trial at London's High Court, Mr Justice William Davis upheld his claim against the Cahills.
The ruling means Mr Pollock will receive massive compensation from the Cahills' household insurers to cover the costs of all the care and assistance he will need for life.
Mr Pollock earlier told the court he had no memory of the accident but was probably "on his way to the bathroom and was disorientated and tripped out the window".
However, the Cahills, of Woodview, Remenham Lane, Henley, have always denied the accident was in any way their fault.
Their barrister, Stephen Grime QC, called it as "a freak combination of circumstances" which no one could have foreseen and for which "no one can or should be blamed".
However, the judge insisted that the "only sensible interpretation" of the evidence was that "this accident was caused because the window was left open".
He added: "An open window at that height, without warning, constituted a trap. He was snared by that trap and he sustained his injuries."
He said there was not a "shred of evidence" Mr Pollock was sleep-walking or believed he was climbing out of a cabin or hatch on a boat.
Mr Pollock 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 taken part in extreme marathons and Ironman events and, since his fall, has helped pioneer the use of robotic legs.
Mr Pollock's lawyers say he has limited his damages claim to the amount which can be recovered under the Cahills' household insurance.