Ex-Sciennes pupil vows to fight council for compensation 20 years on

Brian Gracie was five years old at the time of the injury. Picture: Jon Savage
Brian Gracie was five years old at the time of the injury. Picture: Jon Savage
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A MAN has vowed not to give up on his 22-year fight for justice as his £650,000 personal injury case against Edinburgh City Council looks set to be thrown out of court.

Brian Gracie was five, and in his first few weeks of primary school, when he was knocked down by a car while fleeing a break-time game at Sciennes Primary School by running out of the playground and through the gates.

The accident left him with life-changing injuries. He was unconscious for 30 hours and had no recollection of the incident when he woke up.

Brian, now 58, has been pursuing a civil case since 1996 claiming that his injuries were the school’s fault for not ensuring the playground gates were closed.

But at a hearing in the Court of Session last week, Judge Lord Tyre recommended that the case be dismissed as the only evidence available would be from Brian’s mother, who wasn’t present when the accident happened.

Brian told the Evening News: “I’m not doing this for the money, I want justice.

“My whole life was changed that day. I would have had a normal life if those gates had been closed.”

Just months after his accident, Brian was sent to Ladyfield West, a children’s hospital in Dumfries, because of his out-of-character behaviour – he had started to steal and cause trouble – and so began a 29-year procession in and out of care, psychiatric hospitals and prison for petty crimes.

It wasn’t until 1994 after his final stint behind bars that he discovered he had suffered a brain injury in that childhood incident.

When a friend was involved in a car accident, Brian experienced flashbacks while visiting him in hospital. He was so distressed he had to be forcibly removed from the ward.

Brian said: “Learning about the road accident saved my life. I wouldn’t be here today without finding out about what happened to me.”

He said: “My mother hid the accident from me but my dad tried to tell the police when I started getting into trouble with the law.

“I was a normal happy child then, bang, everything changed. I could never understand why I was so different from my brother and sister.”

Throughout his criminal career he was told by the police that his troubles stemmed from an over-reliance on alcohol and he had no reason to doubt their assertion.

Brian claims he was the victim of abuse in some of the institutions he resided in, but because of his irrational temper and tendency to lie, no-one believed him.

The father-of-two still suffers night terrors and was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder last year. He was left with poor short-term memory after the accident.

Brian’s case was put on hold for years while he recovered his medical records and won, and then subsequently lost, legal aid funding. His current lawyers have taken on his case on a no-win no-fee basis.

“It’s not right what happened to me. All I’ve had is doors close on me since I was a boy,” he added.