Schoolboy (13) awarded over €15,000 for injury at Dublin Zoo

Child’s leg impaled on tree stump following trip on loose cable at Phoenix Park venue

A 13-year-old schoolboy whose left leg was impaled on a tree stump in Dublin Zoo has been awarded €15,500 damages in the Circuit Civil Court.

Barrister William John Kelly told the court that in November 2011, Sam Conway Thornton had been walking with his mother, Gemma Conway, and his aunt, Georgia Conway, close to the Reptile House when the accident happened.

Sam, who was a 10-year-old at the time. He tripped over a loose cable and fell on a sharp, low-cut tree stump sticking out of the ground which had allegedly been recently pruned.

Circuit Court president Mr Justice Raymond Groarke heard his leg was impaled on the stump and that he had needed to be lifted up by his mother, Gemma, of Broombridge Road, Cabra West, Dublin.


The child’s wound bled profusely and he was taken to a first-aid centre on-site, before being sent to Temple Street hospital where a laceration to his leg was cleaned and stitched.

Significant pain

He was discharged on crutches and needed to return to outpatients on several occasions to have the wound dressed.

The court heard that the boy suffered significant pain for several weeks and his social, domestic and recreational life had been disrupted following his injury.

Through his mother he sued the Zoological Society of Ireland, with a registered office at Zoological Gardens, Phoenix Park, Dublin, for negligence.

Mr Kelly told the court that following talks between the parties, the settlement offer had been made. Judge Groarke approved it.