A grandmother who was accused of being ‘staggeringly drunk’ when she fell down a flight of stairs at a Greek hotel has won a 34,000-euro legal battle.
Carole Peters, 60, suffered head wounds and fractured her arm when she tripped while walking down a staircase at Hotel Iliada in Perivolos, Santorini.
The hotel said the pensioner, from Torbay in Devon, was a ‘party animal’ who wore ‘silly shoes’ that caused the fall.
However, a judge at Central London County Court rejected the ‘aggressive’ claims and ordered travel agent TUI to award her 34,000 euros in damages.
During the hearing, the hotel’s management pointed out that 30 of Mrs Peters’ holiday photos showed her ‘in circumstances where alcohol was being consumed’.
Her husband, Kim Peters, had also been photographed wearing a t-shirt, with the logo ‘Beer Disposal Team’.
But Judge Howlett described her as a ‘steady and clear witness’, and accepted that ‘neither she nor her husband had drunk any alcohol that evening.’
The couple were on a two-week TUI package holiday when accident took place in June 2011.
They had enjoyed a relaxing meal with friends at the Hotel Iliada when Mrs Peters fell down a flight of steps leading to a pool.
On top of her physical injuries, the court heard she suffered a ‘severe psychological reaction’, including post traumatic stress disorder.
The grandmother had no memory of the fall, but vehemently denied that she ‘tripped over her silly shoes’ and was ‘the worse for wear’ at the time.
Three friends of the hotel’s bosses backed up their accusations in court, one of them describing Mrs Peters and her party ‘staggering around’.
They were ‘aggressive in their determination to portray Mrs Peters as not only drunk, but as someone who was very drunk indeed,’ said the judge.
But he ruled: ‘Mrs Peters was not drunk. By that I mean that her ability to walk safely and to descend a staircase was not in any way impeded by alcohol.’
She and her husband faced a long drive home the following day and ‘had not drunk any alcohol at all that evening’, he added.
‘As to the many witnesses who said that Mrs Peters was drunk, in the end I find that their accounts lack credibility.’
Also rejecting claims that Mrs Peters had on unsuitable, heeled, shoes, the judge said: ‘She was wearing sensible flat-soled sandals.’
The judge found that she bore 25 per cent responsibility for the accident because she was ‘not paying proper attention to where she was putting her feet.’
But the main cause of her fall was that, in breach of legal safety rules, there was no hand rail on the right hand side of the steps.
Had a rail been in place, ‘Mrs Peters would not have fallen off the staircase and so would not have sustained the injuries,’ the judge ruled.