'It was pure theatrics': Cork court hears of bizarre behaviour in compensation case

Bizarre and theatrical behaviour by a man in the back of a Nissan Micra at the scene of a minor traffic incident saw him hold himself rigid and reach for his head, neck and back, moan in agony and insist that the fire brigade cut the roof off the car to get him to hospital.

At one stage in the colourful evidence at Cork Circuit Court, Judge Seán Ó Donnabháin asked the plaintiff, John Stokes of 2 Deerpark, Charleville, Co Cork, “Did you look for a helicopter?” He did not.

Mr Stokes, 25, had his case for compensation dismissed. He was suing AXA, the insurers for his friend Aaron Buckley of Gurrane North, Donoughmore, who was driving the car at the time when it allegedly drove into the rear of a van in front of them at a roundabout in Wilton. Costs were awarded against him.

There were five men in the Nissan Micra, including the driver. They had been in Wilton shopping centre buying T-shirts and were on their way to a gym in Blackpool.

A second plaintiff, who was also in the Micra, Michael Stokes of 5 St Anthony’s Park, Knocknaheeny, couldn’t make it to court for his case as it coincided with his wedding day.

Judge Ó Donnabháin dismissed his case too and awarded costs only in the event of an appeal, adding, “I suppose it is expensive enough to get married.”

John Stokes testified that the five of them “picked up a few bits and pieces” in Wilton. He later told Joanne Carroll BL in cross-examination they bought T-shirts. He agreed with his own barrister, James Duggan, that he had neck and back pain as well as drowsiness, amnesia and dizziness and it took him six months to recover. Ms Carroll BL wondered how he had symptoms like amnesia and dizziness when he did not hit his head against anything and had no head injury. He denied looking for the fire brigade to cut the roof of the car to extricate him.

First on the scene of the alleged accident on April 15 was a consultant in pre-hospital emergency medicine and critical care, Dr Jason van der Velde, who was in the area at the time.

He described a scene of “theatrics” where all the men were complaining of neck and back injury.

They were all lying back in very bizarre positions and were very contorted. To be honest I would not even call it an accident.

"It was pure theatrics. All four (sic) were demanding to be cut out by the fire service and taken by ambulance to hospital saying they were unable to walk,” Dr van der Velde said.

He said the car was only 50 metres from the hospital and he later saw them all walking to the A&E unit where they were angrily banging on the partition glass demanding to be seen when they were told to wait.

The doctor said the contortions from John Stokes at the scene were absolutely bizarre as he twisted into positions inconsistent with the injuries of which he complained.

Dr van der Velde said in 26 years of emergency medicine he had never seen anything like it.

Judge Ó Donnabháin said that Dr van der Velde’s evidence was fundamental to the case in terms of what he observed and the bizarre behaviour which he described – the plaintiff insisting that he be cut from the car because he could not move and later walking around the CUH demanding attention.


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