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Former Inmate Awarded £4.7M Compensation After Fall At Brixton Prison Leaves Him Brain Damaged

April 15, 2010

A prisoner who suffered brain damage after falling off a bunk bed in Brixton Prison during a fit has been awarded £4.7m compensation by the High Court.

Ryan St George, now 41, was serving a four-month term for theft in the south London prison in 1997 when he fell.

He was moved to an upper bunk despite officers knowing he suffered fits. He fell 6ft (2m) on to a concrete floor.

In 2007 the High Court ruled that “delays and deficiencies” amounted to negligence on the part of prison staff.

Mr Justice Mackay approved an agreed settlement of £4.7m – including a lump sum and periodic payments – to pay for his 24-hour care.

‘Scene chaotic’

Mr St George had told authorities at the time of his admission that he was an intravenous heroin user, a heavy drinker and had been having epileptic fits.

The judge said: “The ambulance was not called for 39 minutes after the event, despite the common sense view being formed within a minute or so that he would have to go to hospital.

“When the ambulance crew arrived, they were unable to drive the ambulance though the gates.

“One of the gates was said to be stuck for some reason which has never been explained and there was a commercial vehicle blocking the entrance.”

He added: “When they (paramedics) arrived, they found Mr St George, as they put it, in as bad a state as a person can be without being dead. The scene was chaotic.

‘Devastating injuries’

“The only information the ambulance crew got was from the other inmates surrounding him.”

In 2007 the High Court ruled that negligence on the part of the prison staff meant the Home Office was 85% to blame for the injuries, and 15% was contributory negligence due to the “lifestyle choices” of the inmate which triggered off the first fit which caused him to fall.

A year later the Court of Appeal allowed his appeal against the contributory negligence ruling.

St George’s 77-year-old aunt Margaret was praised by the court for caring for him in a flat in Camden, north London, since the incident.

Solicitor Jacqui Hayat for Mr St George, said: “This is at last justice for Ryan who can now, after a very long haul, receive proper compensation for his devastating injuries.”

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