Teacher blamed for pupil's 'ruined life'

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The Independent Online
A TEENAGER suffered 'catastrophic' brain damage while having a severe asthma attack after her teacher failed to get help, a High Court judge was told yesterday.

Elizabeth Hippolyte's heart and breathing had stopped and she was effectively dead by the time ambulance staff got to her, James Badenoch QC, told Mr Justice French. Their skill saved Elizabeth, now 23, of Erith, south-east London, but she emerged from a coma with her ability to move and her intellect irreparably damaged.

She could hardly walk and when she did try to move her arms or legs they would jerk uncontrollably. She could not accomplish the simplest task unaided and totally relied on her family. Mr Badenoch said she could speak and had great charm, but hers was 'to all intents and purposes a ruined young life'.

He said Beryl Brown, Elizabeth's teacher at Riverside School, Erith, was mainly to blame for the tragedy in January 1986 because help should have been sought sooner. The London borough of Bexley, the education authority responsible for the school, denies liability.

The hearing continues.