AN assault victim who suffered serious brain damage after being left for ten hours in a police cell with no medical treatment is set to receive financial support for his future care after a Yorkshire police force admitted full liability for his injuries.
Dean Hutton, 26, was hit over the head with a scaffolding pole in an attack by brothers Brett and James Garbutt in Rotherham but was arrested by police and taken to a police station, where he was classified as drunk.
His head injury was not recorded by staff at Rotherham Main Street police station and he was not risk assessed properly, meaning that when his condition deteriorated medical attention was not sought quickly enough.
It was ten hours later, when he was struggling to breathe and had blood around his mouth, that he was rushed to hospital and found to have “a serious head injury and significant brain damage”.
The family of Mr Hutton, from Wath-upon-Dearne, say the physical, cognitive and behavioural difficulties he suffers as a result of the injuries mean he “needs help with almost everything he does” and will require care for the rest of his life.
South Yorkshire Police have now admitted full liability for his injuries after expert evidence gathered by his solicitors Irwin Mitchell showed he would have made a full recovery if he had received medical treatment for his head injury earlier.
The case had been due to be heard at a five-day High Court trial in March, but his lawyers will now work with medical experts to gather evidence on the settlement he would need to support him for the rest of his life before negotiating over a figure with the force.
Stacy Clements, an expert serious injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, said: “We are now working to secure a full settlement which will then be managed by our Court of Protection team to ensure it can provide for Dean’s lifetime needs.”
She added: “Had the police taken note of the fact that Mr Hutton had suffered a head injury and consequently recognised the symptoms he showed through the night, he would have received medical attention much sooner.”
According to a critical report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, Mr Hutton appeared well when police and paramedics were called to reports of an assault on Mount Pleasant Road on August 8, 2009, and declined to be taken to hospital.
He was arrested over a failure to appear at court and taken to custody, and though the custody sergeant was made aware he had received a head injury no record was made of this information.
He vomited while in custody and was found to be difficult to rouse, but according to the IPCC report his “actions were regarded as a result of him being drunk” until a force medical examiner found him bleeding from his nose.
After being taken to Rotherham District Hospital he was immediately transferred to Royal Hallamshire Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery, but the damage had been done.
Mr Hutton’s father Roy said: “Before his brain injury, Dean was completely independent but now needs help with almost everything he does.
“When we first heard about the brain injury we were so worried and we prepared for the worst. But Dean is battling back bravely and his rehabilitation has helped him come a long way.
“He is now attending college and we are just relieved that the police have admitted responsibility, meaning we don’t have to go to a full trial and that we should be able to access the care and rehabilitation Dean will need for the rest of his life.”
Brett and James Garbutt were found guilty of grievous bodily harm with intent and sentenced to seven years and five months and five years imprisonment respectively.
A police spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police can confirm that it has accepted liability for Mr Hutton’s injuries.
“Our thoughts remain with Mr Hutton, his family and friends. Our solicitors are in consultation with Mr Hutton’s legal team.”