Gosforth man hit by priest's car gets payout of £10m

A RECRUITMENT consultant has won a compensation package estimated to be worth £10m after he was struck by a priest’s car while on holiday in Rome.

James Kennedy, who was hit by a car driven by Father John Cole (inset)
James Kennedy, who was hit by a car driven by Father John Cole (inset)

A RECRUITMENT consultant has won a compensation package estimated to be worth £10m after he was struck by a priest’s car while on holiday in Rome.

James Kennedy, from Gosforth, Newcastle, was on a weekend break with university friends in January 2006 when he was hit by a car driven by Father John Cole, a Catholic priest from Merthyr Tydfil, Wales.

During the crash he suffered “catastrophic” brain injuries and bone fractures in his skull, spine, knee and shoulder. The 37-year-old’s legal team claim Father Cole drove away from the scene of the accident and that he was later charged and convicted of drink-driving in the Italian courts.

Now – following a High Court bid for compensation – Mr Justice Bean has approved a lump sum pay-out of £3m and £210,000-a-year to cover the enormous costs of the care and support he will need for the rest of his life.

The total package is estimated to be worth up to £10m over James’ lifetime. During the hearing Mr Justice Bean expressed his “admiration” for Mr Kennedy’s mother, Elaine Kennedy-Lee, 67, from Corbridge, Northumberland.

Last night she said: “My son was very seriously injured and nothing will ever turn back the clock and give James back his freedom and full independence.

“We will continue to stand by James all the way but he also needs significant and specialist support to help him. We will now be able to look forward knowing that the cost of his future accommodation, care and other needs are secure for him. We are very relieved that the settlement for James has finally been negotiated and approved by the court. But this is clearly not a lottery win.

“James needs these funds to help pay for the care, rehabilitation, therapies and other expenses he needs to incur for the rest of his life and every penny of James’ award has been carefully accounted for.”

Father Cole’s Peugeot hit Mr Kennedy as the cleric headed toward the eternal city’s Largo Argentina, the square where Julius Caesar was assassinated.

Mr Kennedy, who was previously a keen cricketer and player rugby for Gosforth junior team, was taken to the Santo Spirito Hospital and remained in a coma for 10 months.

Yesterday the High Court heard Mr Kennedy was in “institutional care” and required 24-hour round-the-clock care for seven years after the tragedy before moving into his own £885,000 home, in Elmfield Road, Gosforth, with an interim payment made in May last year. At an earlier hearing it had been claimed Mr Kennedy could have earned £100,000 a year as a senior manager within about 10 years of the date of his accident.

Clive Garner, head of Irwin Mitchell’s international travel law team who represented Mr Kennedy, said: “James’ life was left shattered by what happened in Rome – a fit and healthy young man was robbed of his mobility and independence in a tragic accident. He will never be able to work again and is currently totally dependent on carers to carry out most of the essential tasks of daily living.”

Mr Kennedy claimed for loss of earnings and the costs of care and special equipment he will need to make the most of the rest of his life. His legal team had already secured a judgment in relation to liability for the accident on the basis of 80% of a full valuation of the claim.

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