Girl (7) awarded €20k after head and neck were trapped in electric gates while playing

A passer-by, hearing the screams of a seven-year-old girl whose head and neck was trapped in electric gates, helped in forcing them open and freeing her, the Circuit Civil Court heard today.

Barrister Alannah McGurk told Judge Kathryn Hutton that the terrifying incident took place a short distance from Layla O’Neill’s home in an apartment block at Marrsfield Avenue, Clongriffin, Dublin 13.

Ms McGurk, who appeared with Barry Healy Solicitors, said Layla had been playing with friends near an underground car park at the apartments and had gone to retrieve a ball when the electrically operated gates started to close.

“The gates closed on Layla’s neck trapping her by the head,” Ms McGurk told the court. “A workman had heard Layla scream and shouted for help, alerting her father.”

She said that between them the two men had succeeded in forcing the gates open far enough to release Layla who was now aged 14. The incident had occurred on 18th June 2014.

Ms McGurk said Layla had been taken by ambulance under spinal protection to Temple Street Children’s Hospital with a suspected head injury. She had been treated for abrasions to her neck and shoulders and detained overnight for observation and discharged the following day.

She said Layla had afterwards suffered from pain to both sides of her neck and to her left shoulder which had been bruised. A series of x-rays had revealed there had been no bone injuries.

Ms McGurk said Layla’s physical injuries had cleared up after about three weeks. She had continued to suffer psychologically from recurring nightmares but was now fully recovered.

Layla had suffered post-traumatic stress following entrapment that she had perceived as life threatening.

Layla, through her mother Joanne O’Neill, sued Pierse Contracting Ltd (In Receivership) with a registered address at Birmayne House, Mulhuddart, a company responsible for the construction, development, control and operation of the electric gates. Fieldmark Management Company Ltd , Mespil Road, Dublin 4, was a joint defendant.

Ms McGurk said the defendants had offered Layla a settlement of €20,000 which she recommended to the court and which Judge Hutton approved.

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