Violinist is awarded pounds 1.4m for ruined life

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A VIOLINIST whose musical career ended when she suffered brain injuries in a car crash was yesterday awarded pounds 1.4m agreed damages in the High Court. Investment income could take the amount to pounds 20m if Rosie Johnson, 26, lives into her seventies.

Mr Justice Judge said: 'She is a remarkable person and tribute should be paid to her for her courage and great cheerfulness in the face of almost overwhelming adversity.'

Miss Johnson, who lives with carers in Hounslow, west London, close to her adoptive parents Ian and Mary Johnson, was fourth violin with the Welsh National Opera Orchestra before the accident, in August 1988. On her way to a recording session, the car in which she was a passenger pulled out to pass a line of traffic just before a blind bend on the A5 at Llangollen, and collided head-on with a lorry.

The damages, with costs, were awarded against the car driver, Daniel Lyness, of Atlantic Wharf, Cardiff, who admitted liability.

Miss Johnson was in a coma for more than seven months after the accident. Her counsel, Hugh Bennett QC, said the skill of staff at the Royal Hospital and Home in Putney, south-west London, and the love and care of her parents had achieved 'great marvels'. Miss Johnson was now very aware of her predicament and could remember her life before the accident. But she could only walk slowly for short distances and her communication was severely restricted. She seemed to understand conversations and was quick to express her pleasure and displeasure. She still enjoyed listening to classical music.

'She was destined to be a top- class violinist and the accident ruined a promising, and posssibly a glittering, career,' he said.

The judge said: 'I'd like to pay my own tribute of admiration and respect to Mr and Mrs Johnson for all they do for their daughter and thank them for the example this story will give - as Rosie's music would have given - to all those who read about it. That is something positive from what is a very tragic case.'

The bulk of the award, pounds 1m, will be invested under a 'structured settlement' to provide tax-free income for the rest of her life.