A man who was previously denied the right to claim compensation despite being subjected to years of abuse by his father as a child has finally been awarded a £19,600 payout following a recent change of law.
The man, now 54, suffered abuse for years along with his siblings, including being locked up for hours overnight in the cellar of their family home in London without food or heat, and being repeatedly brutally beaten with belts, wires and a garden hose.
Their father was eventually jailed for his appalling crimes in 2016, when the siblings together found the courage to report his crimes to the police.
However, when it came to seeking damages through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), the man initially found his claim could not progress, due to the ‘Same Roof Rule’ – a law which prevented survivors of abuse by those they lived with from pursuing damages claims, if the abuse had happened before October 1979.
The law was in place from 1964 when the CICA, a scheme created to support and compensate blameless victims of crime for their suffering and the impact on their life, was established. It was finally abolished after campaigns from victims this June.
“It is a form of closure for me, and that is what I have always wanted, but was denied all the time when the Same Roof Rule was in place,” he said.
“I’d previously been told that seven years of abuse I suffered counted for nothing and had to be ignored. Seven years of being beaten with a belt, living in fear and being neglected. There was no recognition or acceptance of that.
“I am grateful to the team of solicitors who have represented me. They previously sought compensation, prior to the law change, and after, resulting in these damages being awarded. It was never about the money though, a million pounds couldn’t change what we have been through. It has always been about the recognition of our suffering.
“I will never be able to completely put what happened to us behind me. It is always in my mind and when I discuss it I can be very emotional and struggle, mainly thinking of my siblings and how it has impacted on their lives.
“I have been somewhat fortunate in that I have managed to build a nice life for myself, have a family of my own and secure employment. It has not been the same for my younger brother and my sister, who still have very difficult lives and really struggle to come to terms with what has happened to them.
“Their cases are still being assessed and I am confident they will now also eventually be compensated as I have been. The money they will receive will be invaluable to help them pay for the specialist support they need to try and cope mentally with what we were all subjected to.”
Cases for siblings continued to be assessed
Solicitor Nicola Bailey-Gibbs, of CICA Hudgell Solicitors’ specialist CICA claims team, said: “Our client has been awarded £19,600, a settlement which reflects that he has suffered what the CICA has classed as a ‘moderately disabling permanent mental injury’, and that he suffered serious physical abuse.
“The case for his younger brother is unlikely to settle for some time as the impact on him is still significant day to day. He suffered abuse from 1977, when aged just four, continuing to when he was aged 16.
“He is still going through treatment for alcoholism and then will need specialist psychological treatment. It has had a life-destroying impact on him. We have been asked to provide an update on his case next year and this will all be taken into account in any settlement.
“The sister’s case is also still being assessed currently with regards to the psychological impact of her suffering. We hope for a positive outcome in that case too. It is the very least these siblings deserve after suffering as badly as they did when young children.”
The eldest brother, who now lives in Leeds, West Yorkshire, says neither he nor his siblings will ever forget what they went through.
“We all suffered hellish lives throughout our childhoods, then, as adults we were made to suffer again by initially being denied any legal address thorough CICA,” he said.
“We lived in constant fear as kids and we saw him brutally beat our mother, hitting her like he was a boxer. She left when I was about six years old and didn’t come back, and of course things then got worse.
“There must have been 10 occasions that we were locked in the cellar all night, with no carpets, blankets or rugs, no heating, alongside rats. He’d only open the door in the morning.
“I’d say we were given beatings with a leather belt twice a week. He had a belt hanging up in the dining room. If we had visible injuries on any part of our bodies he’d keep us off school, but never take us to the doctors.
“I am still that boy in the cellar. I only escaped when I eventually jumped out of a bathroom window and contacted social services, but even they didn’t escalate it to the police at the time.
“I was simply put in a children’s home. It was known that I had an abusive father but my siblings were left there to face more abuse. I wanted to go back for my brothers and sisters as I feared for them as I knew my mother didn’t dare do anything.
“One of my brothers left as I did when he was a similar age but my other siblings had to stay there until they were around 16 before finally leaving.”
The abuse happened at the family’s home near Peckham, London. Their father was eventually handed a lengthy jail sentence for crimes including ill treatment, neglect, abandonment of a child, causing a young person to cause unnecessary suffering in 2016. He was also placed on the sex offenders register.
That came the four siblings came forward as adults and reported the abuse to the Metropolitan Police.
Solicitors confident of helping many more victims claim compensation
Hudgell Solicitors have settled a number of cases and secured damages for people since the law change regarding people abused by those they lived with in June.
The Government estimated it could result in as many as 4,000 people who had previously been refused compensation reapplying for damages – as they are being encouraged to do – and for as many as 3,500 additional cases over the next two years.
If those numbers do come forward, it was estimated that as much as £126m could be paid out through the CICA scheme.
“Over the past few weeks we have settled cases other cases for £22,000 and £16,500 relating to offences against people when they were children growing up in their family home,” said Mrs Bailey-Gibbs.
“One was a woman who was abused between the ages of seven and nine by her elder half-brother 50 years ago, the other a woman who was abused repeatedly by her father.
“All people affected by the previous law have suffered injustice for so long. They are now at last able to seek legal redress and it is really rewarding to help them secure compensation.
“It can’t change what has happened, but it can bring much needed closure and a sense that their suffering has been officially recognised, especially in cases where no charges were brought against the offender at the time.
“We have been pleased to see some claims being handled and processed quite quickly by the CICA following the law change. This is positive as many people don’t want to enter a process which drags everything out again for them and makes the relive their suffering.
“However, we’d certainly like to see more support in cases like the younger brother and sister we still represent in this case, where claims are being made for disabling mental injury.
“CICA is requiring psychiatrist or clinical psychologist diagnosis before making awards, when in reality very few people will have been referred to an actual psychiatrist or clinical psychologist on the NHS, but rather given medication and referred for counselling.
“Given the nature of offences committed which will fall under the ‘Same Roof’ category, we feel CICA should be doing more to ensure special medical assessments can be carried out in such cases where the client clearly has a mental injury. This would help improve the process for many.”
To make a criminal injuries compensation claim people must report the crime which was committed against them to the police and fully co-operate with investigations.
Even if the perpetrator was never identified, caught, or convicted, claims can still be awarded if the CICA feels there is sufficient evidence that a crime was committed.