Hudgell Solicitors has helped secure damages of £22,000 for a woman who made allegations of rape against her own father five years ago, but withdrew them through fear.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) initially refused an application for damages relating to sexual abuse.
After legal representation it offered £16,500 and then finally £22,000.
A 28-year-old woman has been awarded compensation recognising she was a victim of repeated sexual abuse and rape by her father over a number of years – despite previously withdrawing her allegations against him.
The woman, who had been adopted as a child, tracked down her biological father as an adult and had believed she was developing a good relationship with him.
However, she says he went on to rape her repeatedly, causing her to live constantly in fear as she tried to bring up her own young daughter.
The woman did initially make allegations of rape to the police against her father, but then withdrew them after being threatened and warned she would ‘end up in a box’.
Her suffering only ended when her father broke into her home when she was with a friend – four years after the first attack on her and after she had moved towns to get away from him – threatening to kill her.
He was then arrested by police at the scene, when the woman finally found the strength to speak about the abuse he had subjected her to over the past four years.
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has now been awarded damages by the Government’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which compensates innocent victims of violent crime.
It comes after her initial claim for damages was rejected.
That decision was appealed by her legal team at Hudgell Solicitors, who have now been informed that she will receive the full £22,000 award as a victim of sexual abuse for a period in excess of three years.
Woman was ‘optimistic’ despite father serving sentence for murder
The woman says had been optimistic about the relationship she could form with her father despite knowing he had been jailed for a double murder when she was just a baby, as he had been approaching the end of his sentence and appeared to have been rehabilitated successfully.
She said: “We met a number of times in Sussex initially along with my biological brother when he was on day release. We chatted and started what I felt was developing into a nice relationship. At that stage there was no sign or indication of what was to come.
“All of a sudden, one night he was a different man. He was aggressive and threatening and he raped me twice in one day.
“I’d suddenly gone from being with my biological father and someone I was developing a family relationship with to being with a dangerous murderer and rapist. I was scared, but probably didn’t even know how much trouble I was in then. I was already in the spider’s web and in his clutches.
“He made it absolutely clear that I had no choice in what was going to happen physically, holding me by the throat and then pulling my hair as he assaulted me. That was the start of my nightmare. I couldn’t escape.”
Having spent the next two days travelling with him, during which time the woman says she was raped again, her father was eventually arrested and returned to custody. It was then she reported him to Sussex Police, however, she says she withdrew those allegations after being threatened.
“I started to get threats from his relations and other people, basically saying that if I didn’t change what I was saying I’d end up dead and in a box, it was absolutely terrifying,” she said.
“I was so scared that I went to the police and said that I was withdrawing all allegations. Looking back now, that is one of the things I’ll always regret as I missed the opportunity to end it all there.”
Woman moved to Lancashire town to make new start – but was tracked down
With her own young daughter to focus on and seeking a new start, the woman moved to Lancashire, rebuilding her life until she received news in November 2017 that her father was being released again.
“I remember being stood outside a local pub and he was just standing there looking at me, and from that point he was back in control of me again. He said he’d stay with me and I had no choice. The first four or five days he was ok, but then he’d be drinking and be violent again and sexually assault me repeatedly. It happened too many times to remember.
“He was with me around three months before I persuaded him to go back to Essex. Then, one day when I was at home with a friend he broke in through a window and was really drunk and had a mad, terrifying look in his eyes – he just looked pure evil.
“I called the police and they were on the phone as I ran out of the house and he chased me into the street saying he would kill me. The police arrived and he was arrested in the street.
“I knew then I had to bring an end to it all. The police wanted to know the background so I told all about what had happened in the years before, and how I’d been threatened to drop the initial allegations. I just needed to get it all out.”
The woman’s father was eventually charged with offences relating to the day of his arrest, including affray and threats to kill. It meant he was immediately returned to jail, and given his conviction previously for double murder, can now only be considered for release by a parole board.
Lawyers challenged compensation award and secured higher damages
Looking to rebuild her life again, the woman applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) for compensation.
However, as Stacey Flegg, a specialist in handling CICA claims for victims at Hudgell Solicitors, explains, the case was far from straight forward given the complicated history between the woman and her father.
“Initially in this case was rejected as an application was made for damages in relation to our client being a victim of sexual assault, but the CICA only checked the police details relating to the incident at her home, when her father was arrested in 2017,” she said.
“We appealed this and obtained the full crime reports and statements from Sussex Police, relating to her initial complaints back in 2013.
“There were further complications as the CICA often views withdrawn allegations as a victim forgiving an alleged offender, but we highlighted that those complaints had only been withdrawn because our client was being subjected to threats to kill, and that those threats were linked to allegations against a man who was a murderer.
“This was successful but still damages of only £16,500 were offered, which we again successfully appealed as our client was entitled to a higher award of £22,000 given the sexual abuse she suffered lasted for more than three years.
“We are pleased to have been able to assist in securing these damages as our client suffered the most horrific abuse at the hands of her own father as an adult, and due to a combination of many factors, had not seen any form of justice for her suffering. We hope this helps her make a new start.”
Woman thankful for legal support and urges others to ‘push for justice’ in face of threats
The woman has now moved again to another part of the country and shares custody of her daughter with the girl’s father. She is studying towards a degree and hopes to become a social worker.
She said: “I am so glad I pursued compensation. It was never about the money, it was about seeking recognition over what happened to me, particularly given I’d withdrawn my allegations back in 2013, and in the eyes of the law I am not classed a victim in relation to that.
“Throughout the entire process nobody questioned my integrity. Nobody questioned why I had changed my story, people just wanted to help me. I finally felt like I had been listened to. I felt I wasn’t invisible any more.
“I can’t thank Hudgell Solicitors enough. They have stepped up for me and pushed all the way for me to get the damages I have deserved. I’ll put the money towards a new start again, and I feel the completion of legal case has finally brought me some form of closure.”