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Paralysed paddling pool diver loses pay-out claim
8:00am Saturday 7th December 2013 in News
A DRAMA student who was left paralysed after diving head-first into a paddling pool at a summer ball has been told he is not entitled to any compensation.
Wheelchair-bound Andrew Risk, 25, suffered the spinal injury when he ran and dived into the two-foot deep inflatable pool in June 2009.
Mr Risk of New Road in Shillingford, has tried to sue the Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, Kent, arguing that it had a duty of care to take action to stop him from injuring himself.
But a High Court judge yesterday dismissed his claims.
Last night, Mr Risk – who is now a tetraplegic, which means he suffers the partial or total loss of use of his limbs and torso – told The Oxford Mail he was disappointed by the decision and may appeal.
He said: “I have never denied that some of it was my fault and it always was.”
The paddling pool was one of the activities arranged at the college’s annual ball by Mr Risk and another student after they saw it at the previous year’s event.
But Mr Risk, who studied Scenic Arts, said: “The whole work was unsupervised.
“It could have been preventable. I do stand by the words that the college washed its hands of responsibility.”
Mr Risk, who lives independently with a live-in carer, said he could do design work on a computer and was now looking at careers involving theatre design and property management.
He added: “I could never rely on the compensation. I still consider myself lucky that I have the independent care I have.
“I need to feel like I have earned what I have. I do need to earn my way.
“It is difficult with things to do with my care and physically, it is difficult to know what I can do for the future.”
Witnesses told the court the student was attempting a belly-flop and, in his own evidence, Mr Risk said his actions were a “spur of the moment decision” and that he thought it was a “joyful thing to do”.
Justice Robert Jay said risk assessments were not adequate and supervision of the pool was “hit and miss”, but said Mr Risk’s claim failed because the college did not owe him a duty of care and that, even if it had, the accident was not “reasonably foreseeable”.
He said: “Throughout this trial the claimant acquitted himself with complete honesty, integrity and decency.
“He accepted that this was a spur of the moment decision, and I consider that it was out of character, or more precisely that no one should be judged on the basis of one-off impulsive actions.
“On a human level, I regret the conclusion that I have reached, but to my mind the legal principles are clear and the weight of authority overwhelming.”
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