Barnstaple family to sue Devon council over accident which left their teenage cyclist son paralysed
The family of a teenage cyclist left paralysed after he was impaled on a set of roadside railings while travelling home from college have launched a High Court compensation bid.
Ben Foulds suffered catastrophic spinal injuries when he lost control of his bike, careering through a retaining wall and fence beside Old Sticklepath Hill, Barnstaple, in November 2010.
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He landed head-first on a road 15 ft below and an eight-inch long part of the metal railing plunged into the side of his body.
Ben struggled to cope with his injuries for the next two years, despite being confined to a wheelchair and suffering devastating psychological effects.
But his family were torn apart in October last year when Ben's father walked into his room to discover he had died without warning.
Ben's family are now suing Devon County Council, as highway authority for the area, alleging negligence and breach of duty in failing to properly maintain the fence which Ben crashed through, hurtling to the valley below.
The council denies it had any responsibility for maintaining the stretch of wall and fence, also suggesting that Ben was cycling too fast, failed to wear a helmet and failed to keep proper control of his bike.
The details of the case emerged in a writ lodged at the High Court in London by the family's lawyers - in the first stage of their compensation claim against the county council.
Their lawyers say that the brittle cast iron fence "shattered on impact" when Ben struck it. As a result he fell over the retaining wall and down the treacherous drop to the road below.
Ben was a promising athlete and student at the time of the tragedy, taking part in a multitude of sports such as rugby, rock climbing and kick-boxing, and with ambitions to join the police.
Ben was living in a rented flat in Daventry, Northants, and trying to rebuild his life when he died. The claim is being brought by Andrew Foulds, of Wilson Close, Daventry, and Claire Foulds, of King Edward Street, Barnstaple.
The writ states that Ben's family are seeking between £50,000 and £100,00 in damages; however the county council denies all liability in the case