Sergeant Christopher James Wiki – Sergeant Christopher James Biography
The grieving widow of an ‘intoxicated’ RAF officer who fell to his death from a hotel window after a friend’s wedding is fighting for a £400,000 payout after the owners appealed a judge’s ruling that they should pay compensation for a safety fault.
Sergeant Christopher James, 41, toppled 20ft onto the pavement below after slipping from the window sill of his second floor bedroom at the Grade-II listed White Lion Hotel, in Upton-upon-Severn, Worcestershire.
The Court of Appeal learned in 2015 that in the early hours of a sweltering July night, he lost his balance to open the sash window to get more air and smoke, suffering from fatal head trauma when he hit the sidewalk.
The widow of Mr. James, Deborah, 43, a teacher from Par in Cornwall, won the first round of the legal battle when a judge in Bristol decided in January she was entitled to be paid.
Judge Barry Cotter QC found that Mr. James was “slightly to moderately drunk” but not “drunk” when he returned to his hotel late at night after attending his friend’s wedding.
He acknowledged that the full opening of the sash window, which increased the risk of someone falling, was partially responsible for the accident and that the owners must pay compensation for this breach of safety.
However, the White Lion Hotel is now appealing to her decision, arguing that Ms. James’s claim must be dismissed as her husband ‘sat on the window sill and accepted the risk of falling’.
Mr. James had gone to the wedding with three friends who had stayed at the hotel and woke up the next morning to the news that their friend had died.
In court documents, Ms. James’ QC, Robert Weir, outlined the possible events that led to the fall; He said that this was due to a combination of a low window sill, the fact that the window could be fully opened and the sash mechanism. defective.
“Mr. James had opened a casement window in his second-floor bedroom at night while struggling with the heat and contemplating smoking,” he said.
The window sill was much lower than its normal height, the lower window could open to its full height, and the lower window sash mechanism was malfunctioning to end taking a slightly awkward position to sit on the window sill. lift it up and lean to cool.
At one point he lost his balance and fell from the window on the sidewalk below, and died.
QC added: “He was absolutely careless, but not freely and voluntarily in an inherently risky activity while sitting on the window sill, let alone an obvious risk of falling.”
Judge Cotter found that Mr. James himself was 60 percent wrong for ‘choosing to sit on the window sill’ while blaming the hotel owners for the fall.
He found that if the hotel had not violated his duty of maintenance, Mr. James ‘would not be in a position to fully open the sash window and therefore would not be accidentally dropped’.
After the tragedy, the hotel pleaded guilty under the Occupational Health and Safety Act of 1974, as it was unable to identify or eliminate the risks of falling.
But the hotel’s QC, Ronald Walker, now argues that Mr. James ‘chose to take an obvious risk’.
Even though the window was insecure, Mrs. James insisted that she could not get away from her husband’s risky behavior.
Lady Justice King, Lady Justice Elisabeth Laing, and Lady Justice Nicola Davies reserved their decisions until a later date.
Mr. James was remembered by his widow, Deborah, as a “very loving father” who is always smiling.
It was lively, it was so much fun, it was cheerful, absolutely extroverted, he said.