Journalist sues over fall on step at Helix during Christmas panto

Kenneth Sweeney said it was a tough Christmas as he had dislocated his elbow

Kenneth  Sweeney alleged failure to warn users of the stairs of a tripping hazard by proper and adequate warning signs or markings and by proper and adequate illumination. Photograph:Collins Courts

Kenneth Sweeney alleged failure to warn users of the stairs of a tripping hazard by proper and adequate warning signs or markings and by proper and adequate illumination. Photograph:Collins Courts

 

A showbiz journalist who claims he dislocated his elbow as a result of tripping on a step at the Helix Theatre while attending a Christmas panto has sued for damages in the High Court.

Irish Sun journalist Kenneth Sweeney told Mr Justice Michael Hanna he fell on the side aisle steps as he left the performance of Cinderella after 30 minutes to go to the toilet.

Mr Sweeney, who was sitting at the front of the Helix with his family, said he got up to walk up the steps. He said he did not locate the first step, fell unexpectedly in to his side and was immediately in a lot of pain. The second step was lit up but the first step was not, he said. He said he was taken to hospital and it emerged he had dislocated his elbow. He was in a cast for eight weeks, including on Christmas Day, he said. “It was a tough Christmas.”

Mr Sweeney (52), Newtownparks, Skerries, Co Dublin, has sued Dublin City University, Collins Avenue, Glasnevin, the operators of the Helix Theatre, over the accident on November 30th, 2014.

He has alleged failure to warn users of the stairs of a tripping hazard by proper and adequate warning signs or markings and by proper and adequate illumination. He has further claimed failure to provide appropriate lighting levels in the premises to allow him safely ascend the stairs.

The claims are denied.

Mr Justice Michael Hanna said the issue was whether there was “a disguised step”.

In evidence, Mr Sweeney said he liked to play guitar but has not played since the accident. Cross examined by Luan O’Braonain SC, for DCU, Mr Sweeney agreed he had been at the Helix on many occasions and agreed he had signed an accident report form as he waited for the ambulance.

Counsel put to him the form referred to him “rushing out of the theatre.”

Mr Sweeney said he was going at a normal speed and he did not say he was rushing.

“I had a bone protruding from my elbow. I was in a lot of pain. When these questions were being asked I was waiting for the ambulance,” he said.

Mr Sweeney said he saw the light in the second step and he asked why there wasn’t a light on the first step. “I have a lot of experience of venues at night, I have never seen steps lit in this way.”

Karl Searson, an engineer for the Sweeney side, said, you want to have lighting to indicate the first step. Referring to the first step, he said: “You can’t see the step. It is not visible or discernible.”

The case continues on Wednesday.