0 Home win for the council in case of injured footballer

A Footballer who sued a local council claiming he was injured because of the condition of one of their pitches has lost his case.

Not only was Keith Callaway's damages claim rejected but he has been heavily criticised by the trial judge.

Judge Iain Hughes QC overwhelmingly rejected 33-year-old's claim that his injury in a match was caused by the poorly-prepared pitch at Hunter Park in Twyford, near Winchester.

In a damning phrase, the judge said of Mr Callaway: "His evidence lacked the qualities of consistency and reliability."

He awarded costs against the claimant, leaving him with at least a four-figure legal bill.

Mr Callaway, an insurance consultant, claimed he injured his knee when he stepped in a three-inch deep hole on the pitch while playing for Twyford FC in October 2003.

The hearing at Southampton County Court, sitting in Winchester, heard that Mr Callaway, of Wainwright Gardens, Hedge End, alleged the pitch at Hunter Park was poorly maintained.

Mr Callaway told the trial last week: "All of a sudden, as my right foot went down it landed flat and then went into and turned in a hole. I looked down as my right knee bent left, inwards. I collapsed."

But Judge Iain Hughes QC rejected his case and awarded costs to the defendant, Twyford Parish Council.

In his judgment he said: "I am satisfied - there was no hole in the pitch that caused the claimant's accident."

Judge Hughes, said of Mr Callaway: "I was unimpressed by the evidence of the claimant. His evidence lacked the qualities of consistency and reliability."

'Not certain' The judge said he was not certain the photograph of the hole that Mr Callaway produced in evidence showed the condition of the pitch on the day of the match.

He added: "I am not satisfied as to when and in what circumstances the photographs were taken. I do not find that they illustrate a hole that was on the pitch on October 18 2003."

He preferred the evidence of the groundsman, Terry Forder-Stent.

"I found him to be an impressive witness. I was struck by his comment that he lives in Twyford, that he takes pride in the place and that he has put a lot of extra work into Hunter Park, over and above his contractual obligations to the parish council."

Vivienne Brooks, parish council clerk, said: "We feel vindicated and our extremely experienced and dedicated groundsman has been vindicated.

"It is unfortunate that Mr Callaway felt the need to make someone else pay for his judgment to undertake a sport like football," referring to Mr Callaway's suffering from Guillain Barre syndrome which left him with longstanding problems in his right knee.

The trial heard from Professor Roger Atkins that Mr Callaway "does not quite know where his feet are."

Mrs Brooks said a defeat for the council would have resulted in parish councils having to increase their insurance premium which would jeopardise local pitches.

Source:- Hamshire

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