No compensation for ‘Mary Poppins’ case

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A MUM who was left wheelchair-bound after falling from a bannister while imitating Mary Poppins has lost a multimillion-pound bid for compensation.

Ruth Geary, of East Boldon, damaged her spine and was left tetraplegic after falling nearly 12ft in JD Wetherspoon’s Union Rooms pub, after copying a scene from the popular film.

Her lawyers argued that the handrail, part of the Newcastle building’s original 19th-century design, was more than 20cm below the recommended height. They said that the pub company should pay compensation for breaching its duty of care.

However, after a two-day hearing, a judge rejected Mrs Geary’s claim, ruling that “she was the author of her own misfortune”.

The accident happened in March 2007 when Pfizer employee Mrs Geary and colleagues went for a drink at the Tokyo Bar, in Newcastle, before moving on to the Union Rooms, in Westgate Road.

Mrs Geary said she ate at the pub and had drunk four vodka and tonics during the afternoon, but was not drunk.

The court heard that the group talked about the bannister during their meal and Mrs Geary talked about sliding down it.

One of her colleagues slid down an upper section of the bannister, before she mounted the lower section, which had a three-and-a-half metre drop below it.

Colleague Mark Adams said: “She hitched herself up on to the bannister and went straight over backwards. The sound of Ruth hitting the marble floor stays with me.”

After two days of evidence at the High Court, sitting in Newcastle, Mr Justice Coulson ruled that Mrs Geary had no claim against the pub company.

The judge said: “It appears that her comment was first made in connection with the film Mary Poppins, which she had seen with her children and which, of course, features scenes in which Julie Andrews slides both down and up the bannisters on a sweeping staircase.

“The claimant freely chose to do something which she knew was dangerous.

“Because of the conversations about Mary Poppins, there was even a degree of pre-planning.”

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