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The Measteg Comprehensive Fatal Incident - Jury Inquest

The tragic inquest case of the schoolboy Ashley Talbot who was killed in a fatal bus accident at the Maesteg comprehensive school in South Wales. The matter was listed for a 5 day inquest and involved factual and clinical / medical / forensic  evidence from over 60 witnesses. Inevitably the matter was one which led to considerable press and tv interest and speculation about the ongoing legal claim.


The school was built using a public finance initiative (PFI) initial investment and inadequate safety arrangements were made which eventually would  lead to the boys death through negligent construction and oversight, the  inquest led to a settlement of the action and a fine imposed against the local authority by the Health and Safety Executive, the boy was represented by Graham Balmforth Medical Lawyer and Solicitor Advocate  - Pro Bono, completely free. The Welsh Parliament debated the issue of PFI investment and school safety and new measures were put in place to prevent future deaths. 

"the whole issue of pfi finance and compromise on safety has been the focus of a number of investigations and is likely to continue to be a problem until robust measures for those involved at the ground level of public projects have an independent authority from the investors. It is crucial therefore that there is a set fee for Health and Safety Inspectors and that these inspectors are drawn from a national cadre of experts who are demonstrably independent from potentially rapacious investors or from the local authorities who are likely to benefit from the finance initiative" -   Mr Graham Balmforth - Solicitor Advocate for the Family of Ashley Talbot outside of Cardiff Crown Court. 

£5 Million Award for Boy from Hertfordshire


Robbie Crane, a Hertfordshire schoolboy, has been awarded a figure of around £5 million after suffering brain damage.  Robbie was born with transposition of the great arteries and was treated for the defect at Harefield Hospital, Middlesex.  The heart surgery, which took place in October 2011, was a success.  However, Robbie received negligent treatment during a period of ventilation.  This resulted in brain damage. 

The Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Trust denies liability, however, Mr Justice Owen approved an out of court settlement in which Robbie will receive 70% of the full sum received.    This money will go towards providing Robbie  with the equipment, accommodation, transport and care which he will need for the rest of this life.

In a statement Robbie’s parents, Catherine and Barrie, said “We almost can’t believe that we’ve actually won this compensation for Robbie as we were told on a number of occasions that we stood no chance.”  They continued “We have always provided Robbie with constant loving care and this award means that he will still be cared for when we are no longer able to do so.”

 6ft  5 in Student Sues Doctors over Growth Tumour


A student who is 6 ft 5 in tall has won damages of £1.3 million.  20 year old Kate Woodward, who at the age of 11 was 5 ft 9 in, claimed her new height made her look like a ‘freak’ and had meant she had had to give up her dream of being an actress.  Kate had a problem with her pituitary gland resulting in problems including with her knees, teeth and back and which went untreated between October 2001 and September 2005.  There was a failure to diagnose a tumour on the pituitary gland resulting in excessive quantities of growth hormone.  Proceeding were brought against Leeds teaching hospitals NHS trust over treatment received at St James’s University Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary. Her counsel Stephen Grime QC told the court “We say it is a case where you should approach the matter on the basis that her life has been ruined.  Not taken away, not completely ruined, not taken away, not completely ruined, not in the same category as a brain damaged tetraplegic, but in a whole series of ways her life has been grievously affected.” The Trust had admitted clinical negligence but had disputed the amount of damages.

6,000 Patients Die Each Year Due to

Poor Patient Checks


Recent reports indicate that as many as 6,000 unnecessary deaths per year are taking place because patient information is either not being recorded at all or often enough!  As a result of inadequate charts it is believed that there is inconsistent monitoring of vital signs such as blood oxygen levels which can predict heart and lung problems.  The Royal College of Physicians has commented that due to poor design health charts do not pick up on subtle physiological changes which can indicate if a patient’s condition is deteriorating.  With better designed charts Doctors would be able to intervene more promptly and save thousands of lives each year. 


Indeed, part of the problem lies in that there are more than 100 different types of chart used across the country!  As a result the Royal College of Physicians has designed a new chart which it is campaigning to be used in all hospitals in the UK.  The new chart would be more comprehensive and would use a ‘traffic light’ system to monitor the six vital signs such as pulse, temperature, breathing rate, level of consciousness, oxygen saturation and blood pressure and each is given a risk score.  The score is then added up to indicate the severity of the illness and whether the patient needs more urgent care. 


Bryan Williams, professor of medicine at University College London and Chair of the working party responsible for the new chart commented that “Most improvements are incremental, but we see this as transformational.”

Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said “The public will be shocked to learn that the NHS has been operating such an ad hoc system of monitoring deterioration in the patient’s condition – with very different approaches in each hospital.”


The Department of Health has stated that hospital managers should be able to choose whether to adopt it or not.

The Body in the Bath Inquest - Leaves Public Distraught 

A young South African was killed just days after moving into a rented property with his fiance when an electrical fault turned the bath he was taking into a death trap, an inquest heard. At a hearing on the 15th December in the St Pancras Coroners Court the Coroner (Ms. Mary Hassell) heard that Mr. Felix Owuor (32) was taking a bath in the property he had occupied for  just a few days when a fault in the electrical system in the property electrified the iron bath with live current. Mr. Owuor received a lethal electrical charge and as a consequence died instantly. The deceased had recently moved into the property with his fiancé Miss Mariven Manigos. Miss Manigos gave evidence that she had travelled to a friend’s house in Birmingham, to purchase a wedding dress for their forthcoming ceremony. She telephoned Mr. Owuor on the 17th of August 2015 at approximately 10pm and had a brief discussion but was then unable to contact him again. Whilst giving evidence the Court had to be cleared as several members of the jury and press became distressed.  Ms Manigos continued that she raised the alert and Police forced their way into the property in the early hours of the morning of the 19th of August.

Mr Owuor was found in the bathtub with 3 inches of water still remaining. Officers were aware that there was clearly no assistance that they could give. The entire bath was still buzzing with electrical current. The Coroner heard expert evidence regarding the state of the electrical system and found that the crucial earth bonding between the supply and the main board was not present. Additionally there was no “cross bonding” of the earth system across the electrical circuitry. The townhouse in N5 near to the Emirates stadium was a property of multiple occupation and was split into 4 living units. The property is now subject to an improvement order issued by Islington Borough Council. Giving expert evidence Mr. Barry Kelly a domestic electrical expert, indicated that whilst the supply to the property had been functioning properly the consumer electrics were in a bad state of repair. There was no evidence that the electrical system had been systematically overhauled for over 40 years.

In giving her conclusion the Coroner stated “I find that the deceased received an electrical shock which was the cause of death, the electrical installation was not set up and maintained, it was old and inadequate”.

The deceased’s father Mr. Samuel Oguro stated “every day has been a struggle since our son met his death in that vile house. We have found support from our son’s fiancé Mariven, who tragically has also had her future plans torn away from her. We feel that Britain’s obsession with chasing profit from its housing stock is fundamentally flawed, we feel that this obsession is leading some landlords to treat people as commodities whose safety and security is secondary to profit.  Slum properties are no longer the scourge of the poor, the rising costs of living in this city mean both men and women of good decent incomes find themselves returning to homes that are unsafe or unsanitary. We thank the investigating Coroner and her officers for their support and thoroughness and we thank Mr. Balmforth of Law-Med Solicitors for his representation. We thank God for the brief time we shared with our son, whose love we shall cherish for the remainder of our days. We shall continue to seek justice for our son and for the tightening of regulations on letting private property”.

Mr Balmforth Solicitor and High Court Advocate appears for the Family Estate. 

Mr Bernard Richmond QC (Assistant Coroner) appears for the Commercial Landlords

Inquest touching upon the death of Re: FW. Kings Cross Coroners Court. 

All Solicitors approved by Law-Med are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and carry  full indemnification 

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Law-Med Solicitors

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