Fall victim loses damages fight

A GIRL left badly injured after jumping from a third floor window at a hostel for vulnerable youngsters has lost her High Court claim for £3m damages.Jennifer Bluett, from Mildenhall, spent almost three weeks in intensive care after she jumped 40ft from the window of The Foyer, a hostel for vulnerable young people in Star Lane, Ipswich, in the early hours of January 3, 1998.

A GIRL left badly injured after jumping from a third floor window at a hostel for vulnerable youngsters has lost her High Court claim for £3m damages.

Jennifer Bluett, from Mildenhall, spent almost three weeks in intensive care after she jumped 40ft from the window of The Foyer, a hostel for vulnerable young people in Star Lane, Ipswich, in the early hours of January 3, 1998.

She said she was in fear of her life because, during the course of the evening, a group of youngsters had repeatedly tried to batter her door down, and she suffered catastrophic injuries as a result of what happened, including a profound personality change.

Ms Bluett, 16 at the time and now a 24-year-old mother-of-one, sued a number of organisations who ran or were connected to The Foyer, as well as three people who were later convicted in connection with her jump.

Yesterday, Mr Justice Holland dismissed Ms Bluett's claim against the Anglia Housing Group Ltd, Foyer for Ipswich Ltd, Wherry Housing Association Ltd, Malcolm Markwell and Nighthawk Security Ltd. All those defendants were concerned with the running of The Foyer or providing services there.

On receiving that judgement, Ms Bluett's legal team then told Mr Justice Holland she no longer wanted to pursue her claim against Suffolk County Council which was brought on the basis that a social worker at the council had recommended The Foyer as a suitable place for her to live.

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Lawyers for Ms Bluett, who had been living in a children's home before she moved to The Foyer, said the council should have been aware of the problems at the accommodation, and let her down by recommending it to her.

Ms Bluett did obtain judgement against Richard Marjoram and Sarah Davey, who were convicted of causing grievous bodily harm over the incident, and Joanna Blowers, who was convicted of affray.

However she is very unlikely to receive any damages from them personally.

Central to Ms Bluett's case was whether a night worker at The Foyer, Sarah Cousins, had conducted a tour of the property shortly before the accident happened at around 1.30am and reported that nothing was amiss.

Barrister, John Cherry QC, alleged Miss Cousins had lied about looking around properly and, had she done so, she would have seen the bad behaviour which led to Ms Bluett jumping.

But, describing Miss Cousins as an “impressive witness”, Mr Justice Holland cleared her of any blame and said he was certain she had completed her tour by 1am and had not lied about seeing nothing untoward.

There was also an allegation against Ms Bluett's social worker, Peter Lorford-Page, who Mr Cherry said should never have recommended The Foyer as a suitable placement for her.

But Mr Justice Holland said that, on the evidence he had heard, there was no reason to suggest that Mr Lorford-Page had acted “negligently” or “unreasonably”.

The case had a convoluted legal history, as in February 2004 the High Court ruled Ms Bluett could not sue Suffolk County Council, who recommended the hostel after a foster placement broke down.

However, Appeal Court judges sitting later that year reversed that decision paving the way for Ms Bluett to proceed with her damages claim, which her lawyers had valued at up to £3 million.

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