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13 November 2013, 08:15
A man has launched a High Court legal bid for damages after he deliberately ran headlong into a brick wall while in detention near Gatwick, breaking his spine.
39-year-old Gambian Amadou Nyang - who was awaiting deportation at the time - is now paralysed from the neck down and lives in a care home in West Sussex.
It happened in January 2008 at Tinsley House, an immigration removal centre, managed by G4S on behalf of the UK Border Agency, was allegedly triggered by the repeated refusal to allow Nyang watch his national team play a football match on TV.
Simon Readhead QC, told Mr Justice Lewis in London: "It appeared to have been that which so agitated and disturbed him that he ran headlong into a wall causing the personal injuries which have devastated his life.''
He was constantly being confined and not even being allowed to see the football was the last straw .
Mr Readhead said it was clear that Nyang responded to those who took the time to counsel him and he could be calmed down if handled properly.
If there had been better management and an earlier review of his deteriorating condition, he would not have reached such a highly disturbed state with its attendant risk of self-harm.
There was no criticism of officers for failing to stop his impulsive reaction in response to continued provocation but of the situation which was permitted to develop, added counsel.
"We say this was entirely preventable. There was an underlying disorder and there was a treatable condition.
"We say the healthcare team could and should have monitored him more regularly and, if he had been started on appropriate medication or even a programme of frequent observation and care, his symptoms would not have escalated to the point they did.''
Mr Readhead said that while imprisoned in 2007 for possession of a false passport, Nyang tried to hang himself with an electric cord and was assessed by a psychiatrist, but his history was not followed up as it should have been when he was transferred to Tinsley that December.
A welfare volunteer reported that he appeared paranoid and, the day before the incident, a detention officer heard him threaten to grab a knife and cut his throat.
In the refectory the next morning, Nyang was seen "ranting and raving'' by another officer who described him as ``at breaking point'' and ``on the edge'' - more so than anyone she had seen in eight years at Tinsley.
"Entirely predictably'', added Mr Readhead, Nyang's mood was escalated by a decision to search his room which prompted threats of suicide and against officers.
After the decision was taken to keep Nyang separate and place him on constant watch, he made four requests to watch the match but each was turned down.
The 10-day hearing, which is only concerned with liability at this stage, is contested by G4S Care and Justice Services Ltd and three medical staff who provided healthcare services to detainees at Tinsley House.
They dispute that Nyang was suffering from a mental health disorder, but say he was frustrated and angry and sustained injury by his own deliberate act of running into the wall when he was of sound mind and capable of deciding whether or not to do so.