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Doctors testify brain damage came from blows

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A DOCTOR from Britain has told the High Court in Dublin that he considered a Co Dublin man, who is claiming he was beaten violently by gardai, had sustained brain damage from “day one” of the injury artd it was irreversible.

Dr Michael Abdul, head of the Solihull Pain Relief and Sports Injury Clinic, and an authority on head and brain injuries, said Mr Derek Fairbrother had been referred to him, and he saw Mr Fairbrother seven times during June and July 1988, and once on October 2nd this year.

Mr Fairbrother (28), Mays Cross, The Ward, Co Dublin, is suing the State for damages, claiming he was violently beaten by a number of gardai on June 12th, 1988, and suffered brain damage. The defence denies the claim and says that in striking him the gardai acted in self-defence and used no unnecessary force.

Dr Abdul told the court that his clinical finding was that he was confident Mr Fairbrother’s story was genuine. When Dr Abdul saw him in June 1988, Mr Fairbrother had lacerations on the back of his head. He complained of recurrent severe headaches and stiffness in the neck region. He did not speak much and was withdrawn and detached.

Dr Abdul said that he came to the conclusion that Mr Fairbrother was not really recovering. “In reality, I think this man has sustained brain damage from day one of the injury and it is irreversible.”

When he saw him again in October this year, Mr Fairbrother was worse. He had no sense of time and when he asked him how old he was, the patient replied that he was 24 years of age, which was his age when the incident happened. The doctor said that Mr Fairbrother was out of control, he could not look after his son, did not look after his personal hygiene, did not clean or wash, lost his way, would never be independent and could not have friends.

“The brain damage is totally linked to the injury he sustained on June 12th, 1988. I’m 99.9 per cent sure that it is definitely genuine. There is no evidence so far that he was faking,) Dr Abdul said.

Dr Arnold Orwil, a consultant psychiatrist, saw Mr Fairbrother in Britain in June 1988 and again in October this year. He said that Mr Fairbrother . behaved more like a child in many ways than a grown man. He said looking at the whole history of the case and Mr Fairbrother’s reactions, all suggested that hehad brain damage. When asked in court what the likely cause of the brain damage was, Dr Orwil replied: “Blow” to the head.”

Another witness, Dr Michael Timms, a senior psychologist on the National Rehabilitation Board, Dublin, said that he had assessed Mr Fairbrother four times since August 1988. He said that he gave Mr Fairbrother test’ for intellectual and memory function. The patient performed at a much lower level in the memory test than in the intellectual test One would expect some discrepancy between the two areas, but not so great a difference.

“Psvcholoeists take that kind of discrepancy as being indicative of brain damage,” he told the court.

A Birmingham professor of neurology, Professor Adrian Williams, said that when he recently examined Mr Fairbrother, it seemed he had lost intellectual skills in a very profound way. Professor Williams said he also concluded that Mr Fairbrother’s depression was very severe.

Mr Kevin Haugh SC, for the State, in cross-examination, asked Professor Williams whether, if Mr Fairbrother was feigning his symptoms, this would suggest a subtle form of thinking and a high level of function. Professor Williams said that was the first suggestion he had heard that Mr Fairbrother was feigning his symptoms. He would have had to be “pretty on the ball” to fool a battery of medical experts.

Mr Haugh said there would be evidence that the Garda doctor thought Mr Fairbrother was feigning his symptoms in Finglas Garda station on the night of the incident. Mr Fairbrother went down on the floor, started thrashing around, rubbed his hands on the floor and took dirt off the floor which he put on his face. Professor Williams said that if Mr Fairbrother was confused he could behave in very bizarre ways.

Ms Denise Gillen said she had known Mr Derek Fairbrother since she was 16 and they had lived together for the last four years.

There was no comparison between Derek now and what he was like before the incident.

The hearing continues today.