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Rehabilitation Helps Royal Marine Who Suffered Catastrophic Head Injury In Training

Expert Armed Forces Lawyers Work With MoD To Secure Lifetime Care Package


The mother of a Royal Marine who suffered catastrophic head injuries when he fell from a high-level assault course during a training exercise has spoken of her pride, after he was awarded his Green Beret – making his Royal Marine status official.  

Despite not completing the course due to the fall, 22-year-old James Cobby was awarded his Green Beret as it was felt that his determination in his rehabilitation demonstrated everything it takes to be a Royal Marine. The ceremony took place at the Tower of London – the first time such a presentation has been held there.

James needs round-the-clock care after landing on his head and chest following the fall on 15 June 2011 when he was completing his training at the Royal Marines Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, Devon.

His mother, Janet Cobby, instructed specialist armed forces lawyers at Irwin Mitchell to help her son gain access to the lifetime care, rehabilitation, specialist accommodation and equipment he needs after he suffered life-changing head injuries.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) admitted liability for James’ injuries in February, paving the way for final negotiations of a suitable settlement to be agreed that reflects his complex care needs. They have been supportive to James and the family, reflecting their commitment to their “family”.

Following the fall, James was taken to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth by air ambulance, where a pressure relieving bolt had to be inserted into his skull. He spent a year in a minimally conscious state but has since undergone extensive rehabilitation which is helping with his recovery.

He now lives at a Neurological rehabilitation centre in Peterborough. His mother, Janet, says with specialist rehabilitation, such as physiotherapy and cognitive therapies, he is beginning to regain some quality of life and her proudest moment was in May when he was able to stand with a frame to be presented with his Green Beret and saluted the Commandant General. 

Janet, aged 52 and from South East London, said: “James was just 19-years-old when his life changed forever as a result of the head injuries he suffered. The last three years have been incredibly difficult for the entire family as we have had to watch James struggle with all elements of life, when previously he was always so active and independent.

“I have worried every day about what the future holds for him, however the admission of liability form the MoD gives us hope that his care needs will be met.

“The MoD has also worked with our legal team to ensure James has access to specialist care and rehabilitation now which has made a huge difference to his quality of life. Therapies and one-to-one contact improve his well-being and his smile lights up the room again.  

“Nothing can turn back the clock but my goal is to see James as happy and as comfortable as possible and the admission of liability from the MoD means that’s one step closer and I know he will be cared for, whatever the future holds.

“I was so proud when he stood and had his Green Beret presented at the official Royal Marines’ ceremony in May and I could tell by the smile on his face that he loved every moment. There are four qualities needed to be a Royal Marine - cheerfulness, unselfishness, determination and courage - and it was felt that James had demonstrated all of these, not only during his training, but since his accident, and his Green Beret was well-deserved. All his family are immensely proud of his courage and perseverance. A motto of the Royal Marines is “It’s a state of mind” and this young man has demonstrated that fact.”

Sarah Griggs, is a serious injury expert at Irwin Mitchell specialising in armed forces claims.

Expert Opinion
James has made tremendous progress thanks to specialist rehabilitation but the fact remains that he is going to need substantial care and support.

“We are working with the MoD to finalise a settlement that ensures James has this specialist care as well as on-going rehabilitation and therapies that help him to live life to his full potential.”
Sarah Griggs, Partner

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