A north schoolboy who was hospitalised after a school playground wall collapsed on him has won a compensation payout.
Max MacPhee was injured by the falling debris at Ben Wyvis Primary School in Conon Bridge, Ross-shire, when he was just five.
His leg was broken below the knee, leaving him reliant on a wheelchair and walking frame for two months and now left to live with one leg 0.4ins longer than the other.
Highland Council denied liability throughout a civil action – but last week offered an out-of-court settlement when Digby Brown Solicitors proved they knew of an earlier debris fall one year before Max was injured.
Mum Louise MacPhee, 34, yesterday accused the council of acting “shamefully.”
She said: “It’s shocking that Highland Council didn’t have the common decency to hold their hands up and just help a little boy who was hurt by their own failings instead of having the audacity to try and blame him.”
Max, now seven, was injured in May 2017.
He had been leaning on the wall after his morning nursery session when a coping stone detached and struck him on the right leg – breaking it just beneath the knee.
Max spent two months in recovery most of which was spent using a wheelchair or a walking frame.
His bed was placed in the living room as he couldn’t walk up the stairs and for the first few weeks of his recovery the youngster also had to be bathed by hand while lying on top of the kitchen counter because he couldn’t get in the bath.
Barmaid Mrs MacPhee added: “The council put us through hell, not to mention wasted public money on legal bills, when they could just have done the right thing from day one.
“At least now they can be held accountable and everyone will know their shameful tactics in blaming a little boy.
“If there’s any good to come from this then I hope it’s that the council give themselves a serious shake and invest in improving the safety of public areas so people aren’t hurt in the first place.”
David McGowan, associate at Digby Brown’s Inverness office, led the legal action against Highland Council.
His investigations found the local authority was alerted to structure concerns at Ben Wyvis Primary when a coping stone fell from the same wall in 2016.
But despite this the council still failed to carry out adequate inspections or repair work.
Mr McGowan, who helped secure the undisclosed settlement, said: “This was clearly an accident waiting to happen and it’s distressing to consider how much worse Max or anyone else could have been injured.
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“Every local authority has a duty of care towards those entering their premises and this is especially important when considering schools and nurseries.
“Securing rightful damages is just one aspect of how we help individuals – the other is holding defenders accountable to hopefully improve safety standards for all.”
A spokeswoman for the council said: “It is the council’s policy not to comment on insurance claims.”