17 January 2000
Farm sued over brain-damaged boy

By FWi staff

THE family of a six-year-old boy left severely brain-damaged after contracting E.coli during a trip to a farm has been awarded 200,000 by the High Court.

Tom Dowling was infected by the bacterium during a school trip to Bowmans Open Farm at Colney Heath, Hertfordshire in 1997. He will now need lifetime care.

Today (17 January) a High Court judge granted an initial payment of 200,000 for the boys care.

Bowmans Open Farm and the London Borough of Barnet, which organised the trip, have admitted liability.

The final settlement, – which is expected to run to millions – will be decided at a later date.

The familys solicitor, Jill Greenfield, said the case will have far-reaching implications for similar school trips.

“Tom was on a school trip to a farm, which means farms, local authorities and schools will have to review the precautions that are taken on these trips,” she told BBC Online.

“They will have to make sure children are protected,”

At the time Tom contracted E.coli, around 112,000 children were visiting Bowmans Farm each year.

In 1998 seven children were struck down with E.coli following a bank-holiday tea party at a farm near Purbeck, Dorset.

And last summer, an outbreak of the dangerous 0157 strain of E.coli involving several young children resulted in a farm visitor centre in Wales being shut down.

E.coli 0157, which is carried in the gut of livestock, can release powerful toxins in the human body.

Serious kidney damage can occur in young children who become infected.