Northampton Borough Council has agreed to pay £13 million in compensation to the family of a boy who nearly drowned 'unnoticed' at a town swimming pool.
The boy, who was six at the time of the incident at Danes Camp Leisure Centre in 2002, is now 22 and was left with catastrophic brain injuries after being under the water for around two minutes and 40 seconds.
But in June, 2015, a High Court judge ruled that two lifeguards on duty at the time should have seen the youngster get into difficulty as CCTV showed the child went under the water only seven or eight metres away from their station.
Yesterday, the costs of the landmark case were finally settled, some 15 years after the tragic incident at the borough council-owned pool.
Tollers Solicitors, representing the family, has confirmed the borough council made a 'reasonable offer of settlement' – a lump sum of £13million.
Partner at the firm Tristan Holdom, said: “Money won’t turn the clock back to 2002 when a six-year-old boy almost drowned, but it will make sure they can buy a home where mum can finally stop sleeping on the sofa.
"Where she can get support workers to come in and take her son out and give her a few hours' respite.
"Where she can regain her identity as a person as opposed to a carer.
"Where my client can live for the next 50 years and mum can rest easy that he will be looked after when she can no longer do it.
"Above all, where my client and his family can start living and be happy again."
Northampton Borough Council has denied liability for the tragedy since 2002 and following judge Sir Colin Mackay's summary in 2015, the authority continued to appeal the decision for another two years.
The money will be paid from the authority's insurance.
A spokesman for the council said: “We’re glad to have reached a settlement with the family and we hope this will help them make suitable provision for the future.”
During this time, Tollers claimed the council made no attempt to negotiate a settlement.
However the Court of Appeal rules requires parties to engage in 'alternative dispute resolution' and, four weeks before the appeal hearing, the two parties finally came to a settlement.
The figure, one of the largest payouts ever by a district council, is intended to adequately provide for the claimant for the rest of his life.
Mr Holdom, added: “It’s not about the money. It’s not about the glory. It’s about doing what’s right and being able to change the lives of innocent victims of negligence and those who care for them.
"To see the expression of sheer exhaustion but also total relief on the face of mum, who has tirelessly looked after her son with no support or compassion from [the council], made it all worth it."
Susan Rodway QC, acting on behalf of the council in 2015, claimed the lifeguards could have become distracted by "unruly boys diving into the deep end" and "other pool users".
She also argued that the lifeguards’ underwater views could have been obscured by "a glare of lights on the surface", and said that the boy was "out of sight" of his father, who was also in the pool at the time.
But the judge dismissed the arguments, ruling: “I see nothing on the CCTV to support the notion that it would have been difficult to keep an eye on the progress of the claimant once he entered the water from one or both of the raised vantage points.”