Charity sued over damage to hotel after fire ‘set by boy (10)’

Society of St Vincent de Paul had brought youths on trip to Cappoquin at time of blaze in 2010

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is being sued by David and Mary Tozer, owners of the Pilgrim’s Rest Hotel, Cappoquin, Co Waterford (above) over damage arising  from a fire allegedly set by a 10-year-old boy after absconding from a weekend trip organised by the charity.  Image: Google streetview.

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is being sued by David and Mary Tozer, owners of the Pilgrim’s Rest Hotel, Cappoquin, Co Waterford (above) over damage arising from a fire allegedly set by a 10-year-old boy after absconding from a weekend trip organised by the charity.  Image: Google streetview.

 

A charity is being sued at the High Court over damage to a hotel as a result of a fire allegedly set by a 10-year-old boy after absconding from a weekend trip for children organised by the charity. 

The Society of St Vincent de Paul is being sued by David and Mary Tozer, owners of the Pilgrim’s Rest Hotel, Cappoquin, Co Waterford. 

Scouting Ireland, whose Cappoquin activity centre was used to accommodate the children, is also a defendant in the case.

The Tozers are seeking damages for items not covered by their fire insurance.

The court was told a fire was set by the boy in a shed and spread to the hotel in July 2010. 

There was no insurance cover or contents and repairs to items such as paintings, the court heard.

The defendants deny the claims and sought to have the issue of liability decided by the court as a preliminary issue.

Barry O’Donnell BL, for the defendants, said the society brought the children on a weekend trip to a facility owned by the scouts.

The issue between the parties was whether there was a duty of care in terms of risk assessment and whether an organisation like the society had to carry out background checks to ensure there would have been no risk from the children, he said. There was also an allegation of insufficient supervision. 

Counsel said he wanted the liability issue decided before a full hearing due to take place in April. That would save on costs and court time, he argued.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan refused to split the trial, saying this application was brought far too late. In his experience, splitting a trial doubled the costs, he added.

The parties were ordered to exchange expert reports before March 1st in order to speed up the hearing in April.