A woman has described how she broke down in tears after being awarded damages by a Government scheme which supports victims of crime – despite her alleged attacker being found not guilty in a criminal court.
The woman, now 39, says she had felt let down by the justice system when seeing her former boyfriend walk free from court having faced allegations of rape, sexual assault and domestic violence.
But, after considering an application submitted on her behalf by Hudgell Solicitors, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), which is run by the Government to compensate blameless victims of crime, has now awarded her more than £23,000 damages.
The woman had alleged that she had been raped on four occasions by her partner between the ages of 16 and 18.
She also claimed to have been physically attacked on numerous occasions leaving her unconscious, being cut with a razor blade and held by her throat under water. It was alleged that she became pregnant after being raped, and had a termination as a result.
The woman, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, says she expected her claim to the CICA for damages to be rejected given the outcome of criminal proceedings.
However, she now feels it was worth continuing to fight for legal redress and feels somebody has ‘finally listened’ and understood the impact her past has had on her life.
Woman came forward as an adult to make allegations
The woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said she finally came forward to make her allegations to the police as an adult as she felt her past was beginning to impact on not only her own life, but also that of her new partner, and most importantly their children.
She said: “I found my past was impacting on how I was acting as a parent. I was paranoid when my children were out playing and especially if they were not back home when they should be. I wasn’t being reasonable.
“I imagined the worst possible things happening to them and even warned them that they’d be attacked. I felt I had to confront my past, and that is when I went to the police.
“I’d not seen my former boyfriend for many years as I moved away with my mother in my teenage years. I didn’t see him in court either as I gave my evidence from behind a screen.”
The woman says she felt the criminal trial failed to disclose relevant details to the jury, and that this had an impact on the final verdict.
“There were many things, which were very significant, which were not able to be referred to during the case for legal reasons in the criminal court hearing. That limited what I could say, so it was very frustrating,” she said.
“I came away from it all very angry and wondering what the point was of fighting for justice. I just felt the legal system would always let me down.”
However, having been advised to pursue damages by police officers involved in investigating her allegations, she has now been awarded more than £23,000 after Hudgell Solicitors helped her state her case to the CICA.
Case highlights differences between criminal and civil laws
Her legal representative, Stacey Flegg, a specialist in helping people make claims to the CICA, says her case is an example of significant differences in criminal and civil laws, and that people can make successful claims even when there have been no convictions.
“The criminal justice system in our country requires a jury to be beyond all reasonable doubt when they find somebody guilty of a crime,” she said.
“With regards to claims for criminal injures, there does not have to have been a criminal conviction. It may be considered that there may not have been enough evidence to secure a conviction against the accused, but that there is enough detailed evidence from police investigations to suggest crimes have taken place, and suffering caused as a result.
“There is a subtle but significant difference in the laws and thresholds, and on this occasion I certainly feel the right decision has been made by the CICA. The accepted extent of her suffering, and impact on her life, has also been reflected in the sizeable compensation award.”
The woman added: “After all I have been through I simply expected my case to be rejected and that I wouldn’t be believed, just as had happened with the jury at the trial.
“However, when I opened the letter and saw that I had been awarded damages I just caved in and burst into tears. Finally, after all these years and all I have been through, somebody had listened and somebody recognised me as a victim.
“I felt the legal system had totally let me down. I would like other people who find themselves in a similar position to me to be aware of this, as it is easy to believe that there is nobody out there looking out for you.
“This was never about the money, it was about someone, somewhere, listening to me and helping me.
“When I contacted Hudgell Solicitors they were brilliant in listening to me and understanding the position I was coming from. They said they would help me in making my case and I am really pleased with the result.
“Hudgell Solicitors did that and I am very grateful. It has helped me bring some closure to this and I hope it will help me and my family to move forward.”