Couple awarded £220,000 after sinkhole swallows home

The couple received the sum after suing Scottish Water. Picture: Johnston Press
The couple received the sum after suing Scottish Water. Picture: Johnston Press
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A couple has been awarded £220,000 compensation after their home was demolished by a sinkhole that opened up in their garden.

David O’Connor and Susan Docherty have received the sum after suing Scottish Water at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The pair claimed that the company did not do enough to prevent the void from opening at their property in December 2013 in Calton, Glasgow, and that Scottish Water should have done more to ensure the structural integrity of a manhole close to their house.

Lawyers for Mr O’Connor and Ms Docherty argued that a water mains near to their home burst in December 2008. Lawyers said that the liquid which escaped from the pipe damaged the structural support for a nearby sewer and a manhole, causing the sinkhole to appear five years later.

Lawyers for Scottish Water claimed that the water main leak did not contribute to the appearance of the manhole and that they had done everything in their power.

But in a judgment published at the court yesterday, judge Lady Wolffe in favour of the couple.

The judgment describes how the couple was forced to move after the presence of the sinkhole made their property uninhabitable.

Investigators who tried to establish what caused the sinkhole found that a nearby manhole had collapsed. This manhole, which was connected to a sewer, was the responsibility of Scottish Water.

This caused the couple to sue Scottish Water in the Court of Session.

In the judgment, Lady Wolffe wrote that the parties in the case had agreed that if Scottish Water had been found liable, the compensation should be set at £220,000.

The judgment states that evidence came from an expert called Neil Smith who concluded that water which had escaped from the mains caused the structure around the manhole and sewer to be undermined.

Lawyers for Scottish Water argued that there was large amounts of rain fall in the
area in the month leading up to the appearance of the sinkhole.

They claimed that they had done everything in their power to ensure that the sinkhole did not materialise.

However, Lady Wolffe said that after examining all the evidence available in the case, she preferred the arguments advanced by the pursuers.