A SOUTHAMPTON boy who suffered massive brain damage following a hospital blunder, has been awarded compensation payments for the rest of his life by the High Court in London.

Adam Howlett, 5, who lives with foster parents in Kingsclere Avenue, Weston, was starved of oxygen during birth at Frimley Park Hospital in Surrey in August 1995.

The mistake left him unable to move or speak and with limited intellect.

Adam's counsel, James Watson QC, said the Frimley Park Hospital NHS Trust had admitted negligence in failing adequately to monitor the second stage of mother Margaret Howlett's labour.

But the trust still disputed liability in the case, claiming it would probably have made no difference even if Adam had been delivered half-an-hour earlier than he was.

There was a "very real issue" over Adam's life expectancy, Mr Watson told the court.

Mr Justice Pitchford approved a "structured settlement" of Adam's case which will give him a secure, index-linked and tax-free income, sufficient to meet his care needs for life.

The first annual payment will come to about £27,000, but that figure is likely to increase greatly over the years with inflation and as his care needs increase.

The judge said: "This boy has been dealt a bad hand, but everything that humans can do to assist him has been done," he told the court.

The trust's solicitor, David Mason, made a public apology on the trust's behalf for the "admitted shortcomings" in Mrs Howlett's care during labour.

Adam now lives with foster parents in Weston, but the court heard that his natural parents still play a very active role in his life.

Mr Mason paid tribute to the care lavished on Adam by both his foster parents and his natural parents, who still live near Frimley Park Hospital.