A FORMER paramedic who was left with brain damage after a micro-light crash has won a five-year legal battle for compensation.
Jon Ker, from Rothbury, was flying with Jim Martin when the tailplane of their aircraft suddenly detached causing it to nosedive in December 2007.
Mr Martin, who was a highly-experienced commercial pilot for the Great North Air Ambulance was able to guide the micro-light towards a copse at Burgham Park Golf Course where it crashed into trees at Bywell Farm.
Both were lucky to survive the crash and were left with horrific injuries.
But now a High Court judge has ruled that the aircraft’s manufacturer was liable for the near tragedy and has awarded the pair compensation.
Mr Ker, 42, who was a senior paramedic with the Great North Air Ambulance, suffered a brain injury and fractures to both legs. He also endured months of rehabilitation.
As a result of his injuries he has been unable to fulfil his dream of becoming a commercial pilot.
Mr Martin, 53, from Wylam suffered head and facial injuries and several fractures including to his skull, pelvis, both legs and left arm. He needed extensive rehabilitation and a number of surgical procedures in the following months.
He is no longer fit to fly and suffers from restricted mobility, permanent scarring and memory impairment.
Against the odds both men have been able to find other employment. Mr Ker is a medic working onboard offshore vessels and Mr Martin now trains police and air ambulance helicopter crews in Abu Dhabi.
The pair had left Eshott Airfield just a short while before the accident. An investigation into the crash found aluminium lugs used to attached the tailplane to the fin had corroded.
The men instructed Thompsons Solicitors to pursue compensation against the plane’s French manufacturer Dyn’ Aero which denied liability.
Thompsons argued successfully in Newcastle High Court that the lugs were defective and the men were awarded significant sums in compensation.
Mr Ker said: “It’s a real relief that the judge found Dyn’ Areo liable. This hasn’t been about the money but about proving that the accident wasn’t our fault.
“We did everything correctly that day yet because the lugs were faulty we ended up suffering serious injury.
“We could have died. It was only Jim’s skill which saved us.”
Mr Martin added: “The last five years have been a mental and physical battle but we were both determined that we wouldn’t let this accident stop us from living our lives. We loved our jobs working with the Great North Air Ambulance but because Dyn’ Areo allowed a faulty product to leave their factory we’ve paid the price.”
Paul Brown, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “Mr Martin and Mr Ker have shown bravery and strength in the way they have dealt with their very serious injuries.
“Both have tackled their extensive rehabilitation with courage and have gone on to find alternative employment, despite the hurdles their ongoing injuries create. They are an inspiration and we are delighted we have been able to achieve this judgment.”