Pool accident boy awarded compensation for brain injury

A young boy who sustained severe brain damage during a swimming lesson has been awarded compensation that could total millions of pounds, after his family sued their local council.

Eleven-year-old George Leavers of Mixbury, Oxon, is now permanently brain-damaged and is unable to walk or talk and has ‘minimal awareness’. He was taking part in a swimming lesson at Towcester Leisure Centre in Northamptonshire, in July 2002 when the accident happened.

It is still not clear exactly what happened to George but he was pulled from the pool after being underwater for an extended period. He was unconscious and given emergency resuscitation. He stayed at Tadworth Court children’s hospital for several months before he was allowed to return home and has been left severely brain damaged as his brain had been starved of oxygen. He needs 24-hour care which is provided by his parents and professional helpers.

The family had been living in Towcester at the time and the lesson had been organised by George’s school, Nicholas Hawksmoor Primary. George’s parents Edward and Bridget Leavers filed a compensation claim against Northamptonshire County Council on his behalf. They claimed that the council was negligent and had failed to provide the required level of supervision or care for their son.

Their original claim was for £150,000 but today High Court judge Mr Justice Eady heard from Simeon Maskerey QC how George was left in the pool unsupervised and was almost dead when he was pulled out. Mr Justice Eady acknowledged that the council had been negligent and awarded George a lump sum of £800,000 with a yearly inflation-linked payment of £290,000. The settlement agreed by the judge is to provide for George’s future needs.

A spokesman for Northampton County Council has said that the judges finding were accepted. He said: “For medical reasons this tragic case has taken many years to come to a conclusion. Since this sad event the council has revised and introduced new policy guidelines for school lessons in swimming pools. We have also introduced a system of ensuring these guidelines are adhered to.”

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