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May 27th 2020

Criminal Injuries

Government scheme awards £16,500 damages to woman, 25, despite uncle she accused of abusing her as a child walking free at court

Tracy Thames

Tracy Thames

Litigation Executive, Criminal Injuries

Government scheme awards £16,500 damages to woman, 25, despite uncle she accused of abusing her as a child walking free at court

A woman who alleged that she was sexually abused as a child for four years by an uncle she lived with has been awarded compensation for her suffering two decades later – and despite the man she accused being cleared in court.

A woman who alleged that she was sexually abused as a child for four years by an uncle she lived with has been awarded compensation for her suffering two decades later – and despite the man she accused being cleared in court.

Following representation by specialist law firm Hudgell Solicitors, the 25-year-old from Manchester, who is now a mother of a three-year old-girl herself, has been awarded £16,500 damages by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA).

The Government run scheme awards compensation to blameless victims of violent crime, helping them with lump sum payments to rebuild their lives and cover the costs of treatment and lost earnings.

In many cases, awards are issued following court cases where those accused have been convicted and sentenced.

However, the Authority can also award damages when there has not been a conviction – and even in some cases when an accused person has been found innocent in a criminal court – if it concludes there is enough evidence to suggest crimes may have happened, causing harm.

The woman, who says she has ‘carried a heavy load through life’ as a result of the sexual abuse she suffered between the ages of three and seven, says she felt her suffering had ‘finally been recognised’ when she was told compensation was being awarded.

“This was never about the money for me. It was about the recognition of what happened to me, how I suffered as a child and how what has happened to me has impacted on my life. I now finally feel I have that recognition,” she said.

“I was sexually abused pretty much almost every day from the age of three to seven and it was only when I was 10 years old that I found the courage to tell my mother what had been going on.

“Obviously as a young girl I was very confused and upset, but not old enough to comprehend the enormity of what had been happening to me.

“I even remember at the time not wanting anything bad to happen to my uncle, so when he walked away from court free I didn’t feel anything at all.

“It may sound strange but at the time I was probably a bit relieved as I was a young girl and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to my uncle.

“Of course, as I got older I was able to reflect more on it with greater understanding and it has been a heavy load to carry through life. It really sickens me now to think back, especially given I now have my own daughter who is three-years-old now.”

Solicitors appealed for case to be allowed even though deadline had passed

The woman, who works part-time in a pub, made her case to the CICA in 2017, more than 10 years after she’d made the allegations against her uncle and he was acquitted in court.

In usual circumstances, her case would have been considered ‘out of time’ for damages to be awarded, as rules state people must apply within two years of making allegations to the police, or by the time they turn 20 if abuse has been suffered as a child.

However, Tracy Thames, a CICA claims specialist at Hudgell Solicitors, appealed on the woman’s behalf, highlighting how she had endured troubled times during her late teens and early 20s.

She suffered a breakdown when her mother was unwell and in and out of hospital, and had to care for her younger sister before losing baby twins when they were born prematurely.

Further difficulties were faced in the case as GP records – which play a significant role in the CICA assessing the physical and psychological suffering when considering damages awards – were also unable to be found which would have detailed her mental health issues.

“Given the difficulties I have had, and my battle with mental health, I was never in a position to really consider applying for compensation before I first did in 2017 and it has been a battle all the way because of the issues with being out of time and the missing medical records,” the woman said.

“There have been a few times I have just wanted to give up and walk away but Hudgells urged me not to and repeatedly said that they’d do all they could to get me the result I deserved. I can’t thank them enough because they have persisted and got me a great result.

“As I say it wasn’t ever about the money, but the damages payment will certainly come in useful and I will make sure I use it for my daughter. I’ve struggled through large parts of my life and I want a better life for her so I am studying business at University and looking for a new job. I’ll also use some of it to take us on a nice holiday.”

Giving client good news was ‘one of the best phone calls I have ever made’

Tracy Thames, of Hudgell Solicitors, said: “This young woman has battled through the most difficult of lives and is doing her best for her little girl now as a single mother, so I was delighted to get her a good compensation settlement despite all the challenges relating to her case.

“Making the allegation against her uncle obviously had serious repercussions throughout her family and throughout her early adult years she suffered a full breakdown as she faced many difficult situations which all proved too much for a young woman who’d endured such a troubled childhood.

“We felt that all that she had faced should be taken into account and that is why we appealed to CICA to accept her case out of time. A complaint also had to be made to NHS England as the records which were missing were the crucial ones needed for her GP to confirm the mental health problems she had been through.

“We kept the CICA updated and they were really patient and eventually we received the offer of damages as it was decided the delays had been due to circumstances beyond our client’s control.

“Given all she has been through in her life, calling her to give her that news is one of the best phone calls I have ever made.”

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