The Ministry of Defence is to pay out £9m to a meningitis victim after a top judge praised the parents of the ‘inspiring’ teenager who contracted the potentially lethal bug in a military hospital when just a few hours old.
Mrs Justice Cox paid tribute to Tony and Stephanie Dewar, from Corby for the care and devotion they have lavished on their 18-year-old son, TJ who suffered brain damage due to the infection.
She made her comments at London’s High Court, as she approved a settlement between the family and the MoD - worth about £9 million - which will provide TJ with all the care and support he needs for the rest of his life.
The judge said: “I really enjoyed reading about TJ - I found the story of his life to date humbling and inspiring.
“It seems to me that the level of care you have both given to TJ over the years is exceptional and I recognise only too well the tragedy of the situation and the sacrifices that must have been made.
“You have, without doubt, made a real difference to his life and I commend and thank you for all that you have done to date, and all that you will continue to do in the future.”
Speaking outside court, the family said TJ was born in 1994 at the Rinteln military hospital in West Germany, close to Celle, where his father was based with the Army at the time.
There were no problems with his delivery, but within hours he was taken ill and Mrs Dewar realised something wasn’t right.
Despite her fears, however, a doctor who examined TJ failed to spot the early signs of meningitis and his condition wasn’t diagnosed until he was seen by another member of staff - by which point his illness had worsened.
As a result of the meningitis not being treated sooner, he suffered catastrophic brain damage which has left him in need of round-the-clock care.
The court heard the MoD admitted liability for TJ’s injury and have issued an apology to the Dewar family for the failings at the hospital.
The settlement approved by Mrs Justice Cox is made up of a £2.6m lump sum and annual payments - index-linked and tax free - to provide care for the remainder of TJ’s life.
Mr and Mrs Dewar were at the High Court for the brief hearing, along with TJ’s younger sister, Jamie, and younger brothers, Danny and Lewis.
Speaking afterwards, Mrs Dewar, 37, said: “It has been hard work over the years. We are relieved this settlement has now been finalised.
“It means TJ will be alright for the rest of his life, he will get the things he needs and will be taken care of.”
Mr Dewar, 43, said the family has recently been able to get a specially-adapted vehicle, which has meant they can all go out together for the first time.
He added: “Now we know he can be looked after at home and will always have his own home in the future.
“I’d like to thank our solicitor, Christopher Smith, and everyone at Quality Solicitors Wilson Browne for their help.”
Mr Smith, a partner and civil mediator at the firm, said: “I would like to emphasise what the judge said, which is how patient and supportive the family has been, and how the quality of their care has made TJ’s life as good as it has been.
“He is a happy lad, and that is simply because of the care and support he has had.”