Success Stories for Child Abuse Claims
You are now reading a selection of our successful Child Abuse Claims
Wolverhampton City Council settles abuse claim against teacher who forced pupils to engage in sadomasochistic sexual activity
Bolt Burdon Kemp were contacted by Edward in 2015. As a child Edward attended Wards Bridge School in Wolverhampton where he was subjected to repeated sexual assaults and abuse by his woodwork teacher Colin Laskey. The abuse took place on school premises during the school day and at an afterschool club which Laskey ran in the school gym. The abuse occurred between 1973 and 1975 and included a great number of incidents where he forced Edward to engage in bondage and sadomasochistic sexual activity.
Edward previously investigated the possibility of bringing a claim for compensation in the 2000s with a different firm of solicitors. They investigated but advised that they could not locate sufficient evidence to support his claim and therefore stopped acting.
As soon as Edward spoke to BBK we felt his claim had merit and began investigating what evidence had survived from the original police investigation and court case in 1975. Through extensive archival research BBK uncovered crucial evidence not found by Edward’s previous solicitors, including the certificate of conviction from the original court case and proof that Laskey had been convicted of offences against Edward. This evidence proved decisive in this case.
BBK wrote to Wolverhampton City Council with details of Edward’s case in March 2016 and argued that they should be responsible for Laskey’s actions on the basis that he was their employee and he had used his position as a teacher to gain access to and groom and abuse Edward at Wards Bridge School. In February 2017 the Council offered to compensate Edward for Laskey’s actions, having previously denied responsibility for Edward’s claim.
The compensation paid by the Council reflects the lifelong distress and hurt experienced by Edward and includes an amount to reflect that the abuse affected his education and career.
Edward said that the compensation received from the Council was more than he imagined he would ever receive, particularly after his previous unsuccessful claim. BBK were delighted to have achieved a positive result for a very deserving client. Our skill and experience at investigating non-recent sexual abuse means we have the ability to achieve results in the trickiest of cases, where others have failed.
Scout Association pays up for abuse by Scoutmaster Ian Hounsome
Our client suffered abuse at the hands of Ian Hounsome, leader of 4th Royal Eltham Scout Group, in approximately 1979. On a week-long scout trip in Kent, Hounsome would invite our client and other scouts into his tent every night and then under the guise of a game, assault our client and others.
A number of weeks after the trip, Hounsome was reported to the police. Our client gave a statement at the time, and Hounsome was convicted in November 1979 of sexually assaulting three boys including our client. Hounsome was sentenced to 9 months’ imprisonment.
This case was tricky, because the criminal conviction of Hounsome was so long ago. As a result, many of the documents including the police and court records confirming what had happened no longer existed due to the passage of time. However, we continued to fight our client’s case, and managed to locate a newspaper article which had published details of the Scoutmaster’s conviction at the time. On this basis, we wrote to the Scout Association and put forward our client’s claim.
The Scout Association quickly admitted responsibility for the claim, and we proceeded to negotiate with them to obtain over four times their initial offer to settle our client’s claim.
This case was extremely important to the client, who continued over past 36 years to have flashbacks and nightmares about the assaults. He was diagnosed by a psychiatrist as still suffering from symptoms of anxiety and reaction to severe stress. As a result, we claimed successfully for the defendant to pay for a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy for him, as well as damages for his pain and suffering of the abuse itself.
Children’s home pays compensation to abuse victim for gross failings in their care
In 2012 Rachel approached BBK for help in bringing a claim for compensation against an organisation that ran the children’s home she was placed in. She explained that as a child she was placed in a children’s home in Kent in around 1968 when she was around seven years old for a period of approximately a year and a half. The children’s home was run by Peter Hickman.
From the moment she arrived, Hickman targeted Rachel and subjected her to horrendous emotional and physical abuse in the home. He would regularly taunt her and call her ‘ugly,’ ‘a liar’ and ‘a disgusting little girl.’ Understandably after time, Rachel began to believe what he said to her and lost all confidence in herself. On the first night in the children’s home Hickman stripped Rachel and scrubbed her naked body leaving her red raw. He placed a bar of soap in her mouth and told her it was to wash away ‘all of her lies’ before leaving her in that state for a number of hours. Petrified of Hickman, Rachel began to wet the bed. When Hickman discovered this he would rub her face in her urine. When she was six years old Hickman asked Rachel to put her hand flat on a wooden chest. He then nailed a nail into her little finger, the scar from which still remains to date.
In 2006, as an adult, Rachel wanted to see her records from the children’s home. A meeting was arranged but she was informed that Hickman had died. As a result no police investigation could take place. Years later in 2012 it was discovered that Hickman was in fact very much alive. The police carried out an investigation and Hickman was charged with six counts of assault against Rachel. He was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to three and a half years imprisonment.
BBK was instructed to bring a claim for compensation against the organisation that owned the home. This case was tricky because Rachel was strictly speaking long out of time to bring her claim. In order to assess the impact of the abuse upon Rachel, we instructed a specialist psychiatrist to prepare a report. The report revealed that Rachel suffers from a number of mental health conditions and requires treatment. After a letter was sent to the organisation setting out the basis of the claim, a response was received defending the claim. Despite this however, an early offer of settlement of four figures was put to Rachel but on our advice, this was rejected as being far too low. After some negotiation Rachel’s case settled for a five figure sum. Whilst this will in no way change the past or make up for what she has been through, it means that Rachel can now access treatment as and when she needs it. This was a very sad case but one that came to a successful conclusion for our client.
Addenbrookes Hospital pay compensation for Myles Bradbury abuse
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has recently paid a five-figure sum to our client for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Myles Bradbury.
Bradbury was jailed in December 2014 for a truly shocking number of sexual offences against his patients, who were mostly young boys. He was initially jailed for 22 years, which was reduced to 15 years on appeal.
Our client was abused by Bradbury during the course of medical appointments with him at Addenbrookes Hospital. During the purported examinations, our client was unsure as to why such intimate assessments were required but believed them to be necessary given that Bradbury was a respected medic.
Our client reported the abuse he suffered to the police and approached Bolt Burdon Kemp regarding compensation once he realised the impact of Bradbury’s actions upon him.
BBK brought a claim against Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust on the basis that they were liable for Bradbury’s actions as his employer as the abuse took place in the course of Bradbury’s employment as a consultant at Addenbrookes during medical appointments.
The Trust quickly admitted that they were to blame for Bradbury’s actions and it became clear that they wished to settle the claim without recourse to a civil court case. Having entered in to negotiations with the Trust a five-figure sum was eventually agreed to settle our client’s claim. Our client is now looking forward to his future having successfully obtained justice by seeing Bradbury jailed and obtaining compensation from the Trust.
Compensation and apology from Wandsworth Council for abuse at hands of Patrick Duggan
Wandsworth Council have paid our client a significant sum of money for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Patrick Duggan, an employee of the council in the 1970s.
Duggan worked at Battersea Park Road and Falcon Grove children’s homes in the mid-1970s and was entrusted with the care of the children who lived within the homes. Our client was subjected to severe abuse at the hands of Duggan soon after his arrival at Battersea Park Road and also whilst he was a resident at Falcon Grove. The abuse took place on the premises of the homes as well as outside the homes. Duggan would bring our client away from the homes, seemingly with the knowledge of the heads of the homes.
Disturbingly, it appeared from our client’s social services records that there were suspicions at the time surrounding Duggan and his unhealthy interest in our client emanating from our client’s family and other employees at the home. Despite these suspicions very little was done to limit the contact between Duggan and our client. Duggan ceased working for the council although it has never been clear whether he was sacked or whether he left of his own accord.
In Summer 2016 our client approached BBK to bring a claim against the council for their failures to properly protect him from Duggan. Despite the council not formally accepting that they were to blame for Duggan’s actions they settled our client’s claim for a significant sum. They have also provided an apology to him for the harm he suffered and the impact of Duggan’s actions upon him.
BBK secures damages of £25,000 for pupil sexually abused by teacher
Our client suffered serious sexual abuse at the hands of his teacher Anthony Dowsing when he was a pupil at Hayes Park School, Raynton Drive, Hayes, Middlesex UB4 8BE. The abuse took place between approximately 1982 and 1985 when our client was between 7 and 10 years old.
In February 2013, our client found the courage to report Dowsing to the police and on 16 May 2014 Dowsing was convicted of indecent assault against our client. He was sentenced to four years imprisonment.
The abuse that Dowsing subjected our client to had a significant impact not only on his mental health as a child, but also as an adult. At the time of the abuse, our client suffered a great deal distress and upset. He spent much of his time worrying about people finding out about what Dowsing was doing to him, but he felt powerless to stop it. As an adult, the ongoing effects of the abuse resulted in him turning to alcohol and cocaine. He has difficulties trusting people and this has had a negative impact on his relationships. He continues to have bad dreams and intrusive feelings and memories.
We brought a claim for compensation against Hillingdon London Borough Council on the grounds that they were vicariously liable for the sexual abuse our client suffered at the hands of Dowsing because they employed him as a teacher at the school and his actions were closely connected with the performance of his duties and arose in circumstances where they entrusted the safekeeping and care of our client to Dowsing. The Council were very much aware how strong our client’s case was against them and they were keen to settle the case quickly. We entered into negotiations with the Defendant after they made their first offer of settlement, resulting in them eventually offering our client £25,000, a sum our client was delighted to accept.
Church of England settles another case for abuse perpetrated by Reverend Terence King
Our client contacted BBK in May 2015 as she wished to bring a claim against the Church of England for the abuse she had suffered at the hands Reverend Terence King, the Parish Priest of St Mary the Virgin Church in Woodkirk, Leeds. King abused our client 20 to 30 times between 1979 and 1980, when she was 9 to 10 years old.
Our client showed exceptional courage by reporting the abuse to her parents and the Church of England when she was 10 years old. However she was completely let down by the Church of England who simply accepted King’s denials. Shockingly, they not only allowed him to remain as the Parish Priest of St Mary the Virgin Church for many years, they also allowed him to continue to have unsupervised access to children.
The police contacted our client many years later in 2002, as other people had come forward to say they had also been abused by King. Our client then provided a statement to the police and they arrested King in August 2002. Frustratingly for our client, King committed suicide on 31 October 2002 following his release on police bail.
Although King committed suicide before he could be convicted of offences against our client, we were confident that she could make a successful claim for compensation against the Church of England. There were striking similarities between the evidence of our client and the evidence of the others abused by King. It was clear that King had been a dangerous sexual predator and that the Church of England had failed to protect children from him, time and time again.
The Church of England’s response to our client’s claim was extremely disappointing. They denied they were responsible for the abuse our client suffered at the hands of King on the grounds that King only came into contact with our client as a result of her friendship with King’s daughter and not as a result of his position as a priest. BBK strongly disagreed with this and promptly issued court proceedings against them. This resulted in the Church of England having a swift change of heart and they agreed to pay our client £21,000 in compensation.
Kent and Medway NHS Trust settles sexual assault case by nurse Vijay Bundhun for £7,500
Our client contacted BBK in November 2015 as she wished to bring a claim for compensation against the Trust for the sexual assault she suffered at the hands of her mental health nurse, Vijay Bundhun, in approximately 2012/2013.
Bundhun was employed by the Trust as a mental health nurse in 2004. Over the 10 years or so that followed, numerous allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour were made against Bundhun to the Trust by both patients and female members of staff. However the Trust failed to take any adequate steps in response to these allegations and as a result they failed to protect not only their staff but also their vulnerable patients. It was not until March 2014 that the Trust finally suspended Bundhun. He was then convicted in August 2015 of four counts of rape and nine counts of sexual assault against six women and was jailed for life. Had the Trust acted appropriately when the allegations about Bundhun were first raised in 2004, they would have been able to prevent Bundhun from sexually assaulting our client.
What must be remembered is that Bundhun’s patients were incredibly vulnerable and it was his position as a mental health nurse at the hospital that allowed him to commit these terrible acts of abuse against them. We feel very strongly at BBK that the Trust has to be held to account for their terrible failings so that lessons can be learned for the future. It is well established that sexual abuse and assaults cause deep trauma for those affected, so we sought not only compensation from the Trust for the assault our client suffered, we also sought compensation to pay for the treatment she needed to help get her life back on track.
The Scout Association settles claim for abuse by leader of the 1st Sturry Scouts
Our client James contacted BBK in January 2015. He wanted assistance to bring a claim against the Scout Association for abuse he had suffered when he was aged between 13 and 14 years old at the hands of his scout leader, Shaun Horley. What is unique about James’ claim is that Horley did not physically touch James, but BBK were still able to obtain compensation for the psychiatric harm caused to James because of what he saw Horley do, as well as for the emotional abuse that Horley subjected him to.
Horley, through his position of trust as a scout leader, was able to take the scout group away for weekends and on various camps. Horley gained the boys’ trust during these camps and would buy alcohol for the scouts and allow them to smoke tobacco.
On these camps, Horley would make James and the other scouts shower naked, on the pretence that he was checking that they were clean. Throughout this ordeal, he would pass cruel comments on the boys’ bodies.
On one occasion, Horley locked James in the scout hut and showed him pornographic material. Horley then made James watch as Horley performed a sexual act in front of him, which was obviously extremely distressing for a child.
In 1997, James and another scout discussed what had happened and bravely decided to go to the police. On 9 June 1998, at Maidstone Crown Court, Horley was convicted of a number of sexual offences and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
As a result of the abuse, James has suffered with mental health issues. This was confirmed by an expert psychiatrist who was instructed by BBK.
Somewhat unusually in these cases, the Scout Association was persuaded, at an early stage, to settle James’ case and much to his satisfaction the case was settled for a five figure sum.
Successful claim against Leicester County Council for abuse by Peter Farrands
In November 2016 we successfully assisted Daniel in bringing a claim for compensation against Leicestershire County Council in relation to sexual and emotional abuse he was subjected to by Peter Farrands who was Daniel’s primary school teacher at Folville Rise Junior School in Braunstone, Leicester.
Daniel was taught by Farrands during his final year of primary school between 1980 and 1981. Over the course of the year, Farrands groomed Daniel and subjected to him repeated and frequent incidents of sexual abuse including incidents which took place in a classroom setting whilst Farrands was teaching other children.
Daniel first reported the abuse he was subjected to by Farrands to Leicestershire Police in 2012 and whilst Farrands was arrested and questioned by police he disputed Daniel’s allegations and the police came close to dropping their investigation due to a lack of witnesses. Fortunately, in around 2014 a number of other individuals who were also abused by Farrands independently reported their abuse to police and Farrands was subsequently charged with offences against Daniel and two other individuals who had also attended Folville Rise Junior School.
In May 2015, Farrands was found guilty and convicted of a number of offences against Daniel and another individual at Leicester Crown Court whereupon he was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Farrands was also made to sign the sex offenders register.
It was an unfortunate feature of this case that Leicestershire County Council had missed opportunities to identify Farrands as a paedophile and prevent him from abusing Daniel and other children. In the course of their investigations, Leicestershire Police obtained a statement from the headmaster of Folville Rise Junior School at the time of Farrands’ offences. The headmaster admitted that during the late 1970s he was made aware that Farrands had indecently assaulted a pupil during a barge trip with the Scouts in the late 1970s. The headmaster who was also County Commissioner for the Scouts required Farrands to leave his post as a scout master however he did not report the incident to police and allowed Farrands to continue to work as a teacher at Folville Rise Junior School. Farrands subsequently went on to abuse Daniel and other pupils after this incident took place.
Throughout Daniel’s claim for compensation, lawyers for Leicestershire County Council raised numerous technical points in an attempt to frustrate Daniel’s claim. Leicestershire County Council argued that Daniel’s claim was technically out of time as he did not issue his claim at court prior to his 21st birthday. They also required Daniel to prove that the incidents of abuse by Farrands occurred in the course of Farrand’s employment with the school and that they should be held responsible for his actions despite the fact that incidents took place in a classroom setting and the headmaster was made aware that Farrands had previously abused other children.
Thankfully these arguments were not successful and we were able to secure compensation for Daniel to reflect the distress, suffering and psychiatric injuries he experienced as a result of the abuse he was subjected to by Farrands.
As a result of Daniel’s disclosure a number of other individuals have now come forward to report abuse they were subjected to by Farrands. In December 2016 Farrands pleaded guilty to seven charges of indecently assaulting another four children, three of whom had been pupils at Folville Rise Junior School. Farrands was sentenced to a further two years imprisonment in addition to the seven years he was sentenced to in 2015.
Father pays six figure sum to daughter for over a decade of abuse
Between the ages of three to 15 years old SDE was seriously sexually abused by her father BWX. Many years later she approached police and disclosed what had happened to her as a child. A police investigation pursued and in 2014 SDE’s father was convicted of offences against her and sentenced to 17 years in prison. This was later increased to 19 years following an appeal by the prosecution.
After the police investigation had concluded SDE approached BBK to investigate a claim against her father for compensation for what he had done to her. It is important from the outset to establish the extent of a Defendant’s assets when pursuing an individual because, unlike an organisation, they are extremely unlikely to have insurance to cover such a claim. Whilst many people have a claim against their abuser directly therefore, unfortunately, many are unlikely to proceed because of the limited amount of assets that an abuser may have.
In this case, an investigation into BWX’s assets from the outset revealed that he owned a number of properties and was in the financial position to be able to pay compensation to SDE for what he had done to her, in addition to her legal costs.
As in all cases, a letter was sent to BWX setting out in detail the allegations of SDE’s claim. Accompanying this was an early offer of settlement because SDE wished to conclude the case as soon as possible considering the distress that she had already suffered during the process of the criminal investigation and subsequent trial. BWX, however, ignored this which left no choice but to issue the claim at court immediately to protect SDE’s claim as she was strictly speaking out of time to bring it because she was over the age of 21 years old.
Shortly after this, in 2014, BWX appealed his criminal conviction and was successful due to an error made by the Judge in the criminal trial rendering the criminal conviction unsafe. BWX was then released from prison. The Crown Prosecution took the case to a re-trial and as a result SDE was forced to undergo the entire process again and bravely took the decision to do so and give evidence on the stand for a second time. Following the re-trial BWX was convicted again and sentenced to 17 years in prison to take into account the two years he had previously spent in prison for his crimes.
During this time, SDE’S case for compensation against her father was placed on hold pending the outcome of the re-trial but upon conclusion of the criminal case the civil claim was restored at court. BWX then produced a document known as a Defence in which again he protested his innocence.
As part of a claim for compensation the parties are required to comply with court deadlines. BWX failed to do so and as a result a successful application was made for his Defence to be struck out entirely. This meant that SDE won her claim against him and what remained was to determine the value of it.
In these types of claims we rely upon medical evidence from expert psychiatrists to comment upon the effects of abuse upon our clients. In SDE’s case, she was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depression as a result of her father’s assaults upon her. It was argued that because of these mental health difficulties SDE’s career had suffered resulting in a loss of earnings.
The claim proceeded and for a while it looked as though the claim was going to have to go to trial because of BWX’s lack of engagement with the claim. Shortly before trial, however, an offer was received from him and, following negotiation, the claim settled for a six figure sum. This was exactly twice the amount that SDE had advised that she would accept at the outset of the claim. This will enable SDE to obtain the treatment that she needs to treat her mental health difficulties caused directly by her father.
In this case SDE was in receipt of benefits and so a personal injury trust was set up into which her compensation could be paid in order to protect her entitlement to benefits in the future, This was very important because, as a result of the abuse, she is unable to have the career and earnings that she would have done had her father never abused her.
Scout Association pays six figures to female scout victims of abuse by scout master
Over the past year BBK has been instructed by four clients in their claims for compensation against the Scout Association for abuse that they all suffered at the hands of Albert Clark. Clark was the leader of the 4th Putney Drummond Cub Scout group and 4th Putney Air Scout Group. It was through his role as leader that Clark took advantage of his position to abuse girls at the group spanning a number of years across the 1980’s and 1990’s.
In the years after the abuse our clients discovered that they were not alone in what had happened to them, as they had thought, and reported the abuse to the police. During the investigation a total of six victims disclosed abuse that they had suffered by Clark.
In 2000 Clark was found guilty at Kingston upon Thames Crown Court of numerous counts of sexual abuse offences and sentenced to prison and placed on the sex offenders register.
As a result of the abuse our client’s suffered from a range of mental health difficulties including post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and difficulties in relationships. These difficulties in turn had an effect on their education and careers causing a loss of earnings in some cases.
Unusually in the cases of these clients’, the Scout Association expressed a wish to settle the claims at a relatively early stage and invited us to settlement meetings where the cases settled in excess of a six figure sum.
Claim settled for abuse at Chalfont Heights Scout Camp
BBK has recently settled a claim for abuse suffered by our client at the hands of his Scout Master, Bryan James Wright.
Our client was a member of the 29th Ipswich Scout Group in the late 1980s. The 29th Ipswich Scout Group, amongst other Scout groups, had been attending a Scout camping trip at Chalfont Heights Scout camp where our client was abused by Wright. Wright was the leader of the Chalfont Heights camp.
Our client reported the incident to the police after he had seen Wright’s photograph in the newspaper which reported that he had been convicted of offences against other children. Our client recognised Wright immediately and reported him to the police. Earlier this year, following an investigation, Wright was criminally convicted of the assault on our client.
BBK was then approached to bring a claim for compensation against the Scout Association on the basis that it employed Wright and it was in his position as a Scout leader that he was able to abuse our client. Thankfully the Scout Association acknowledged at an early stage that it was responsible for the abuse that our client suffered at the hands of Wright, saving him further distress. A successful negotiation as to the value of our client’s claim then followed with which our client was very pleased.
Claim Settled for Abuse at Baguley Hall Primary School
Manchester City Council has settled a claim for compensation relating to sexual abuse at Baguley Hall Primary School.
The headteacher in the 1980s, Mr Green, was convicted of sexually abusing children attending the school at that time. Green would use the guise of punishing children to sexually abuse them whilst in his office.
A child realised that this was wrong and reported the abuse to his parents, who in turn reported the abuse to the police. Green was sentenced in relation to his offences in the early 1980s.
Bolt Burdon Kemp has recently secured a settlement for an individual who was abused by Green. Manchester City Council paid the sum without resorting to a Court hearing.
Victims of Gordon Rideout receive apology and compensation from the Diocese of Chichester
In May 2013, Anglican priest Gordon Rideout was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after he was found guilty of 36 separate sex offences against 16 children. Following the sentencing, the Bishop of Chichester, Dr Martin Warner, acknowledged the “immeasurable and destructive suffering” Rideout had caused.
Shortly thereafter, we were instructed by five of Rideout’s victims who were all abused by him in the 1960s when they were residing at a Barnardo’s children’s home, Ifield Hall, near Crawley. Rideout was the curate at St Mary’s church in Southgate. Our clients and other children from Ifield Hall would attend service at St Mary’s church and Rideout would sometimes hold the service at the gardens at Ifield Hall. He would also visit the home regularly. This allowed him to prey on the vulnerable children, most of whom had already been the victims of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of their own families, prior to coming to Ifield Hall.
In around 1972, Rideout was the subject of an investigation at Aldershot Army Barracks. Our clients were contacted by officers at Aldershot who took written statements from them about the abuse they had suffered at the hands of Rideout. However, no further action was taken at the time.
In 2011, following allegations of abuse by another victim, our clients were contacted by the police and provided statements once again. On this occasion, the investigation was successful and lead to Rideout’s conviction.
All of our clients received a letter of apology from the Bishop of Chichester in which he expressed “the sense of deep shame that the trial of Gordon Rideout had brought to the Church of England”. The Bishop went on to say:
“Due to the Church’s institutional failure to recognise abuse and report it in such a way as to bring about an adequate response, you have been made to carry the burden of criminal abuse and its effects for many years. I wish to pay tribute to your strength and determination in bringing to justice a person who betrayed so inexcusably the trust placed in him”.
We brought a claim against the Diocese of Chichester on the basis that Rideout was a priest and he used his position to breach the trust placed in him by our clients. The Diocese admitted the abuse early on and gradually settled the claims one by one, with an overall payout of £110,500.
Successful Claim Relating to Kingshurst Academy
Solihull Metropolitan Council has paid a sum of compensation to an individual who was abused by John Patton whilst he was a student at Kingshurst Academy.
Patton was a language teacher at the Academy when my client attended the school in the 1980s. Patton singled my client out for special treatment causing him to be ridiculed by his peers whilst also abusing him in the classroom.
My client’s parents reported the abuse to his parents who, in turn, reported the abuse to the school and the local education authority. No action was taken against Patton at the time and he was able to continue his abusive behaviour.
By chance, my client learned of other complaints against Patton in 2014 whilst online. He approached the police and provided a statement. In October 2014 Patton was jailed for 3 years 11 months having admitted indecent assault.
Solihull Metropolitan Council quickly made an offer of compensation to our client, a sure sign that they recognised their negligence in not taking action in the 1980s when the abuse was first reported.
Scout Association issues formal apology to victim of abuse
A little over a year ago Bolt Burdon Kemp was contacted by Simon who advised that at the age of 12 years old he was sexually abused by his assistant Scout master Michael O’Leary whilst he was a member of the 17th Fareham Scout Group. The abuse took place during scout meetings at a local church on a number of occasions.
In 2013, some fifty years after the abuse occurred, Simon explained that he had reported the abuse by O’Leary to the police. O’Leary was then interviewed and admitted the abuse after which, for some reason, he was only given a police caution.
The Scout Association were notified of the claim in which we argued that they were responsible for the actions of O’Leary as he had committed the abuse as a result of his position as assistant Scout master.
Unusually in this case the Scout Association took no issue with the fact that, strictly speaking, Simon was long out of time to bring his claim because he was over the age of 21 years old – this would have been a complete defence to the claim had they raised it and been successful in the argument. Also unusually, the Scout Association accepted responsibility for the actions of O’Leary meaning that Simon had won his case at the very outset of the claim thereby alleviating him of any further distress.
The next step was to assess the value of Simon’s claim by considering the nature of the abuse he had suffered and the effect that it had upon him and his life. One of BBK’s specialist experts was then instructed to prepare a report to comment upon exactly this.
From the outset of Simon’s claim he made it clear that he wanted an apology from the Scout Association for what had happened to him whilst in their care. This was by far more important to him than any amount of compensation that he could hope to be awarded. With this in mind, it was made clear to the Scout Association that an apology would be expected as part of the settlement agreement.
At present an apology is not a legal remedy and as such a Defendant cannot be forced to give one. Zahra Awaiz-Bilal, a Senior Solicitor in the abuse department at BBK, is currently campaigning for this to become a legal remedy and in this case, the Scout Association agreed to give a personal apology to Simon. It is hoped therefore that the more we campaign for this, the sooner it will become the norm in abuse cases because like Simon, every person affected by abuse deserves an apology.
The Scout Association pays £407,000 to victims of Scout leader David Hopkins
BBK were instructed by five clients between 2012 and 2013, who had all suffered sexual abuse at the hands of their Scout leader, David Hopkins.
Hopkins was the Scout leader of the 3rd Hawkinge Scout Group in Kent. He preyed on vulnerable children from broken families, grooming them by giving them money, buying them gifts and taking them on days out. The grooming soon turned into sexual abuse of the most horrendous nature, with Hopkins raping most of his young victims on a daily basis.
In September 2002, an allegation of male rape was made against Hopkins to Kent Police. This allegation was made by a former member of the 3rd Hawkinge Scout Group. Hopkins was arrested on 26th November 2002 and admitted the allegation. Thereafter, Kent Police initiated an enquiry and made a plea for other victims to come forward. It was during the course of this investigation that our clients reported their abuse to the police. The investigation revealed that Hopkins had abused as many as 38 children over four decades.
During a search of Hopkins’ home, officers found diaries detailing his abuse of a large number of young men who at the time were all members of the Cubs, a substantial number of negatives, in excess of 170 different 35mm negative strips, and cine films of his activities. All of these were of an explicit nature showing Hopkins engaged in various sexual acts with his young victims, most between the ages of 8 and 13.
Hopkins was charged with 20 offences of indecent assault, four offences of buggery and four offences of taking indecent photographs of a child. He pleaded guilty to all the offences. On 8 September 2003, in Maidstone Crown Court, Hopkins was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment, ordered to sign the Sex Offenders Register for life and barred from working with children.
Given the severity of the abuse, all five of our clients suffered a number of psychological difficulties, from personality disorders to post traumatic stress disorder; some had become addicted to gambling, some suffered from harmful use of alcohol and others from harmful use of cannabis and cocaine. They needed treatment. The abuse had affected their education and employment opportunities.
We pursued a claim against the Scout Association on the basis that it was vicariously liable for the acts of Hopkins. Liability was admitted in all five cases at an early stage. Four of the cases settled out of court by way of negotiations and settlement meetings with one succeeding at trial.
The compensation will allow these clients to receive the treatment they need and have the opportunities they were deprived of throughout their lives.
BBK secures compensation for assaults by a nutty Professor
In June 2012, Mr K was viciously attacked by his neighbour, a reputable Professor of Science, for “making too much noise”.
The Professor kicked down Mr K’s door and ran into his living room with a large kitchen knife. He screamed obscenities at Mr K, made threats to kill him, and then lunged at him and began slashing at him with the knife. He repeatedly punched Mr K in the face. He then punched Mr K in the chest with such force that he hit the window, causing the window pane to break.
Mr K eventually managed to run out of the house and call the police. The Professor was arrested and in September 2012 he was convicted for unlawful wounding and damage to property of a value unknown. He was sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, which was suspended for 18 months.
Mr K suffered physical and psychiatric injuries as a result of the assaults. He suffered lacerations and bruising to his head and leg. He also suffered from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which led to significant psychological distress and impairment of his quality of life for a period of 13 to 14 months following the assaults. He underwent a course of hypnotherapy.
Mr K contacted BBK in July 2013, to pursue a claim for compensation. The first step in this claim was to ascertain if the Professor had sufficient assets to make it worthwhile pursuing him and to this end, we obtained an asset report into his financial position. This revealed that the Professor did not have any sizeable assets but he did receive funding and grants for his research projects and he was a reputable figure in his field and therefore it would be worth pursuing him.
Once the claim process started, the Professor failed to engage despite our numerous efforts to contact him. We therefore issued court proceedings against him. It was at this stage that he finally responded to the claim, but only to plead his innocence and to assert that he had no money and therefore we should abandon the case against him. We, of course, continued with the claim and just weeks before the trial, the Professor agreed to an out of court settlement.
Sefton Council pays out for abuse by woodwork technician against multiple claimants
BBK has recently settled cases for three clients that were sexually abused over varying lengths of time by Brian Veevers, a woodwork technician at St Wilfred’s Catholic High School in Litherland, Liverpool during the 1990’s.
Veevers preyed on male pupils at the school and carefully selected a number of boys to join his woodwork club that took place during lunchtimes and after school. It was during meetings of the club that he took advantage of them in the worst possible way by sexually abusing them.
The abuse came to a head when the boys disclosed to each other what had been happening to them as, unbeknownst to them, they were not alone. The boys then reported the abuse to their parents who then called the police. Veevers was arrested but denied the allegations. He was then charged with sexual offences against five male pupils at the school. Despite the number of victims, Veevers continued to deny the charges and the boys were forced to attend a trial in 1996 and give evidence against him. Veevers was found guilty and sentenced to prison.
Three of the pupils, now men in their 30’s, approached BBK with a view to bringing a claim for the abuse that they suffered. A claim then proceeded against Sefton Council as this was the authority responsible for the school. As part of the claim we attempted to obtain copies of our clients’ police statements but as is sometimes the case, these had been destroyed due to the time that had passed. Instead we were able to obtain a copy of the court documents detailing the charges against Veevers and proving the conviction from so many years ago. The case was also heavily reported in the newspapers and we were able to obtain copies of numerous articles that were printed at the time.
All three clients were seen by our specialist medical experts and detailed reports were produced commenting on how each client had been affected by the abuse which is what we use to help value our cases.
The council, as is fairly usual, argued that our clients were completely out of time to bring their claim and if they were successful with this argument, it would be a complete defence to the claims. Despite this, the council proceeded to make offers to settle each of these three cases.
With BBK’s advice the offers put forward were rejected as they did not adequately compensate our clients for what they had been through taking into account the abuse itself and the effects upon their mental health and their lives. With further negotiation we were able to increase the council’s offers of compensation for each client on a number of occasions until we were satisfied that our clients were awarded what they deserved.
The Church of England settles case for abuse perpetrated by Reverend Terence King
Our client contacted BBK in May 2015 for assistance in bringing a claim against the Church of England for the abuse she had suffered at the hands Reverend Terence King, the Parish Priest of St Mary the Virgin Church in Woodkirk, Leeds, which occurred between approximately 1985 and 1989 when she was aged between 6 and 10 years old.
Our client reported the abuse she had suffered to the police in 2002 and King was subsequently arrested. However King committed suicide on 31 October 2002 following his release on police bail.
Although King committed suicide before he could be convicted of offences against our client, we were confident that she could make a successful claim, as BBK had already made a successful claim against the Church of England on behalf of another client who had been abused by King. In addition, BBK is currently acting for two other clients who were abused by King. The similarities between the cases are striking. In the circumstances there was no doubt in BBK’s mind that King had been a dangerous sexual predator.
BBK therefore sent an initial ‘letter before claim’ to the Defendant and instructed a Consultant Psychiatrist to prepare a medical report in respect of how the abuse had affected her life. The psychiatrist confirmed that as a result of the abuse our client had suffered from some features of post traumatic stress disorder. She had experienced recurrent recollections of the abuse and there has been a degree of avoidance behaviour in respect of reminders of the abuse. She had anxious dreams/nightmares on an occasional basis over the years. She also lacked trust in authority figures and avoided contact with priests and attending church services wherever possible.
BBK disclosed the medical report to the Defendant and at the same time made an offer in full and final settlement of the claim. The Defendant responded by saying that they had no offers to make. They said that whilst they admitted that they would be vicariously liable for those acts of abuse our client proved were committed by King in the course of his employment, they were not satisfied that our client had proved the events she had alleged had taken place. BBK responded by informing the Defendant that they would issue court proceedings against them.
As the court papers were being prepared, the Defendant had a swift change of heart and made an offer to settle our client’s claim in the sum of £10,000. Following negotiations with the Defendant, they increased their offer to £12,500, a sum our client was delighted to accept.
BBK secures damages of £50,000 for a client sexually abused by a catholic priest
This client suffered serious sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic Priest called Philip Challis between 1992 and 1996 when he was between approximately 8 and 12 years of age.
Many years after the abuse had ceased, our client found the strength and the courage to report the abuse to the police and on 30th August 2013, Challis was convicted of nine sexual offences against our client and received a total sentence of thirteen years imprisonment and six years extended sentence.
Following the conviction, our client contacted BBK for help in bringing a claim against the Catholic Church for the abuse he had suffered. As this case occurred such a long time ago, technically our client was out of time to bring a claim for compensation. The law says he should have brought his claim before his 21st birthday. However, the court does have discretion to waive this time limit, but will only be persuaded to do so in very exceptional circumstances. BBK believed there were good grounds for the court to waive the time limit in this case because:
- There was a criminal conviction against Challis, so there was no reason why a fair trial should not be achievable in this case.
- Challis was still alive and in prison at the time, so he could have come to court to give his version of events if required.
- Whilst this case did not depend heavily on written documentation to prove the allegations made, there was no reason to believe that such documentation, as there was, did not still exist.
It was therefore hard to see how the Catholic Church would be prejudiced in defending this claim going forward.
It was BBK’s case that the Catholic Church was responsible for the sexual abuse and assaults perpetrated by Challis because Challis was in a relationship with the Church ‘akin to employment’ and because the abuse was “closely connected” with the performance of his duties as a priest.
Unfortunately in this case, the Catholic Church defended the case at every opportunity. One particularly unpalatable argument they made, was that Challis had been in a relationship with our client’s mother, and that it was Challis’ relationship with our client’s mother that allowed him access to our client, as opposed to his position as a priest. This allegation was completely untrue, however understandably it caused our client and his mother much unnecessary distress.
BBK instructed an expert psychiatrist to comment upon the effects the abuse had had on our client’s life. The medical evidence confirmed that as a result of the abuse, our client had developed a Conduct Disorder. His education had been significantly disrupted. His emotional development, his relationships with those in authority and members of the opposite sex had also been damaged. In addition, he had suffered a loss of faith in religion and low self esteem.
Despite continuing to deny liability for the abuse, upon receipt of the medical evidence, the Catholic Church made an offer of £37,500. They later increased their offer to £45,000 and then to £50,000.
On our advice, the client was very happy to accept the sum of £50,000, which represented an excellent outcome to the case.
BBK secures damages for client sexually abused by teacher at prestigious boarding school
In February 2015 Bolt Burdon Kemp were approached by Timothy who had been sexually abused by his French teacher, Keith Cavendish-Coulson, whilst he was a pupil at the prestigious Terra Nova boarding school in Cheshire.
In around 1974 when he was approximately 12 years old Timothy was sexually abused by Cavendish-Coulson on at least two separate occasions. The abuse by Cavendish-Coulson included a sexual assault in a classroom after he had invited Timothy to participate in extra French lessons. Terra Nova School later became aware that Cavendish-Coulson had groomed and physically, sexually and emotionally abused a number of pupils at the school over an extended period of time. The school allowed Cavendish-Coulson to resign from his position and failed to report Cavendish-Coulson to police or take further action.
In 2013 Timothy was contacted by Cheshire Police as part of investigations into allegations that Cavendish-Coulson had sexually abused a number of pupils at Terra Nova School. Timothy provided a statement to police and went on to be a prosecution witness at the trial of Cavendish-Coulson in November 2014 at which Cavendish-Coulson was convicted of 42 counts of indecent assault against 25 former pupils at Terra Nova School.
In under 12 months, Bolt Burdon Kemp were able to bring a successful claim for Timothy against Terra Nova School in relation to the abuse which he was subjected to at the hands of Cavendish-Coulson. Whilst Timothy had gone on to have a successful career upon leaving school, the abuse which he experienced stayed with him throughout his life. Upon the successful resolution of the case, Timothy expressed pleasure that the result had helped to bring closure to this issue.
The Scout Association settles claim for abuse by leader of the 1st Kirton Sea Scouts
In March 2015, BBK was instructed by Bob, for the sexual abuse he had suffered at the hands of his Sea Scout leader, Michael Costin, when he was aged between 11 and 15 years old.
Costin used his position as Scout leader to gain the trust not only of the children in the group, but also their parents. He repeatedly emphasised to the members of the scout group how important trust was between friends and how important it was that they trusted him. He regularly took members of the Scout group on camping trips and they also attended sleepovers in the Scout hut.
Costin appeared to be a fun and exciting figure to the eleven and twelve year old children in the Scout group. He allowed them to do things which their parents would not allow. He often supplied them with alcohol during sleepovers and camping trips and he would allow them to drive his car and ride his motorbike.
In 1996, Costin was convicted of four indecent assaults on three sea scouts. He was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment and made to sign the Sex Offenders Register for ten years.
BBK pursued a claim against the Scout Association, who admitted liability for the abuse by Costin early on.
Thereafter, we proceeded to consider settlement of the claim by obtaining medical evidence from a Consultant Psychiatrist as to the effects of the abuse on Bob. The psychiatrist concluded that the abuse had had a profound effect on Bob in terms of his self-esteem and personality. He had experienced night terrors and nightmares and the abuse had also affected his intimate relationships and sexual life. It was likely that these difficulties would continue indefinitely.
We advised Bob on a settlement proposal and, following negotiations, the claim settled. Bob was pleased not only with the outcome but also that the whole process concluded within 11 months.
Second case against Newham Council concluded for the acts of Joseph Birtles
Joseph BIrtles, a school teacher at Kensington Primary School in the 70s and 80s, was a prolific paedophile who has now been jailed. The local education authority were aware of this but did not ensure that Birtles was brought to justice at the time, merely enforcing his retirement following which it is suspected he may have offended again.
In or around 2013 one of Birtles’ victims came forward again to the police to re-report the abuse he suffered whilst attending Kensington Primary. With the courage of this individual a new investigation was started culminating in the sentencing of Birtles to 7 years.
Two of the individuals he abused then approached Bolt Burdon Kemp in order to obtain compensation for the failings of Newham Council. It became immediately clear from documents obtained from the police and from the local education authority that the school was aware of Birtles’ paedophile tendencies but did not take the requisite steps to ensure that he was jailed. It is clear that children were abused that may have not been had Birtles been stopped when the school first suspected his offending.
The school sought to defend both cases that we brought on the basis that the claims were out of time. The school also sought to diminish their negligence when defending the claims in court.
However, it was clear that whilst the school was happy to advance defences in the terms above they were aware that the likelihood of success would have been very slim indeed. Soon after filing Defences in both cases the local education authority put forward offers to settle the claims. Following some negotiations both clients received compensation that would allow them to obtain the counselling they require.
£200,000 awarded for local authority’s failure to protect a child
Bolt Burdon Kemp recently settled a claim for £200,000 on behalf of our client, Maureen Wood, against Staffordshire Council for their negligence in failing to protect her from serious abuse at the hands of her mother, brother and stepfather.
Trigger Warning – This article contains references to serious sexual abuse suffered in childhood. If this makes you uncomfortable or brings up negative emotions for you we would recommend that you do not read any further.
Our client, Maureen Wood, approached us following the successful conviction of her mother, stepfather and brother for serious sexual abuse throughout her childhood which spanned years of repeated rapes and pregnancy.
From a very young age Maureen and her siblings were placed in to the care of a local authority following the separation of her parents. When Maureen was aged in or around 7 years old her mother returned and took her children out of the care of the local authority. Maureen and her siblings were introduced to their new stepfather, John Wood.
At around the age of 8 years of age Maureen’s older brother, Jock, started to touch her inappropriately. Maureen knew what Jock was doing was wrong but was unable to turn to anyone to tell them what was happening. Jock raped Maureen at the age of 9 years old and continued to rape her for some time.
A year later, Maureen’s stepfather caught Jock raping Maureen. Relieved, Maureen hoped her ordeal was over. However, soon after John Wood started to abuse Maureen also. When her mother learned of the abuse she too commenced abusing Maureen.
When Maureen was 13 she fell pregnant. Maureen’s mother told her to lie about the paternity of the child. Maureen gave birth to a baby boy, Christopher. Weeks after his birth Christopher passed way due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Whilst Maureen’s mother and brother stopped abusing her, her stepfather continued to do so until she was 16.
Throughout the whole of Maureen’s childhood social services were heavily involved with both Maureen and her family. There were entries in the records that indicated that the local authority had grave suspicions about Jock and suspected that he may have been abusing one of his sisters. Despite this social services did not fully investigate their suspicions. Jock was asked whether he was abusing his sister and he said he was not. This was accepted and Maureen was not consulted by any social workers with suspicions.
Due to the time that had passed between the abuse and Maureen instructing BBK many of the family’s social services records had either been inadvertently destroyed or lost by the local authority. It was on this basis that they sought to say that they were not liable for the abuse Maureen had suffered as there were not enough records to now fully investigate the claim.
Whilst there were few records, given social services’ ongoing involvement with the family it was clear to Bolt Burdon Kemp that there was enough in the records to indicate that Maureen had been totally let down by social services. There were clear signs which should have been fully investigated but never were which led to her suffering horrendous abuse by her family.
Whilst the council sought to defend the claim it was evident that they were aware that the signs of negligence were present. It was on this basis that both parties met and the council ultimately offered £200,000 to settle Maureen’s claim.
Unsurprisingly, Maureen has suffered the effects of the abuse for her whole life and it is unlikely that the symptoms will ever abate. With the compensation awarded by the council Maureen can now access the therapy she requires on a private basis for as long as required.
Whilst the compensation will never replace her childhood or bring back Christopher, Maureen has indicated that she wishes to use the compensation to give her children the sort of life she did not have.
Scout Association pay out yet again for abuse by Scout Master
A little over a year ago Harry approached BBK for help in bringing a claim against the Scout Association arising from serious abuse that he had suffered as a young boy at the hands of John Tapping, scout master of the 17th Fulham Pioneers. The abuse dated back to 1971 and occurred on a number of occasions over the period of a year on scout trips across the country.
As is very usual, Harry did not understand what was happening to him at the time because he was so young and the abuse only came to light when another scout in the group disclosed his abuse to the police. The police then approached Harry and asked him to give a statement. After he had disclosed to the police what had happened to him, Tapping was then arrested and charged with a number of offences against members of the scout group including Harry. Tapping in fact pleaded guilty to the offences thereby avoiding the need for Harry to attend court and give evidence on the stand. Tapping was then sent to prison.
As this case occurred such a long time ago it was important for two reasons to act very quickly when Harry instructed us. Firstly we needed to establish what evidence still existed all these years later to prove that the offences had occured. Secondly, technically Harry was extremely out of time to bring a claim for compensation because he was over the age of 21 years old. Whilst the court has discretion to extend the time limit in certain cases, we needed to show that a fair trial would still be possible so that the Scout Association could not argue that it was prejudiced from defending the claim all these years later. Evidence from the time was therefore key.
Notably in this case, however, the police and court documentation were confirmed to have been destroyed due to the passing of time. In fact despite numerous searches down various different avenues, including a search of newspaper archives, no evidence of the abuse or conviction could be found thus making the claim very difficult to proceed.
Despite this, the claim pressed on and an initial letter was sent to the Scout Association setting out the allegations that Harry was making. Despite initially requesting evidence that any abuse had ever taken place, the Scout Association very quickly made an offer to settle Harry’s claim. It was clear at that point that there must have been old records that the association still had from Tapping’s time as a scout master confirming that he had been convicted of abusing boys in the Scouts.
BBK then instructed an expert psychiatrist to comment upon the effects of the abuse in all areas of Harry’s life. With the help of the report we were then able to effectively value the case at a higher level than was offered by the Scout Association. A counter offer was made in response and the case was able to settle just before Christmas much to Harry’s satisfaction.
BBK secures damages for the victim of sexual assault by a police officer
Sophie contacted BBK in 2013 in the hope that she could make a claim for compensation against the Metropolitan Police. In October 2012, Sophie was arrested and taken to Bethnal Green Police station for offences she was later acquitted of. Whilst in custody, over the course of approximately 3 days, Sophie was subjected to numerous sexual assaults by the Designated Detention Officer. The actions of the Designated Detention Officer were not only criminal acts, they also constituted a significant abuse of power. Sophie reported the sexual assaults she had suffered to the police and on 2 July 2013, the Designated Detention Officer was convicted of ‘misconduct in a public office’ and was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment.
As a result of the assaults, Sophie suffered mild to moderate post-traumatic symptoms, which include intrusive memories, bad dreams, anxiety symptoms and avoidance of things that reminded her of the assaults.
BBK brought a claim against the Metropolitan Police on Sophie’s behalf on the grounds that the Metropolitan Police were vicariously liable for the actions of the Designated Detention Officer because they were his employers. Sophie’s claim settled for 8,360 and she was delighted with the result.
BBK secures £45,000 for severely autistic client assaulted by carer
In July 2012, BBK was approached by Billy’s mother. Billy was 18 years old at the time and suffered from a severe autistic spectrum disorder (ASD). He had limited language skills and he could not communicate verbally. He needed constant care and supervision.
Between March 2010 and June 2011, when Billy was aged between 17 and 18 years old, he was physically and emotionally assaulted by his carer, Andrew Burke. After Burke started to care for Billy, his mother noticed a change in his behaviour and moods. She became suspicious and installed CCTV in the house to see how Burke behaved towards Billy when she was not at home.
The recorded footage showed Burke physically and verbally assaulting Billy on numerous occasions, which included hitting and jabbing him, shouting at him repeatedly, eating his food and telling him that he “eats like a pig”. Billy’s mother reported the assaults to the police and Burke was arrested. There was a three day trial at Manchester Crown Court in May 2012 but unfortunately Burke was found not guilty.
Notwithstanding that Burke was not convicted, on the strength of the CCTV footage, BBK decided to pursue a claim against Burke’s employer – Respite (North West) Limited. Liability was admitted at the outset but the main hurdle in this claim was proving the impact of the assaults on Billy’s life, given his pre-existing difficulties.
BBK instructed a clinical psychologist with extensive experience in dealing with young people with ASD and learning disability who had experienced trauma.
There were a vast number of records and documents to be reviewed in this case, from both before and after the assaults took place, in order to assess how the assaults had affected Billy. Given Billy’s inability to communicate his thoughts and feelings, the documents in this case together with witness statements from Billy’s mother and other carers, were the main evidence BBK relied upon.
The psychologist concluded that the assaults exacerbated Billy’s ASD and caused him great distress due to fear and pain. It was also likely that immediately after the assaults, Billy suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.
BBK put forward a settlement proposal which included not only compensation for Billy but also a claim for the expenses incurred by his mother in purchasing and installing CCTV equipment around the home, on the basis that these would not have been necessary had Burke not given her cause for concern. This was accepted by Respite (North West) Limited and Billy’s claim settled in the sum of £45,000.
Abuse cover up claim successful against Kent County Council
At the age of 15 years old Elizabeth’s mother passed away and she was taken into care by Kent County Council where she was placed in Chatham Family Support Centre, a residential unit. The day after joining the centre Elizabeth met residential social worker Tony Graham. Graham was on duty at the centre four to five nights a week and was 41 years old at the time. To begin with, Graham befriended Elizabeth at a time that she was most vulnerable following her mother’s death and used to talk to her in the evenings at the centre while giving her wine to drink. As this continued, Graham would ply our client with alcohol so that she would become intoxicated. The more Elizabeth became intoxicated the more she came to trust Graham and would tell him about her life, something he was later to use against her as he would taunt her that she had neither a home nor a family that loved her.
Within the first three weeks of being at the home Tony began to rape Elizabeth in the staff bedroom at the centre when she was intoxicated. This became the pattern every night when Tony was on duty at the centre. He would tell her that if she told anyone what he was doing to her she would not be allowed to see her two younger brothers who were in care elsewhere.
A few months after the abuse began Graham’s girlfriend visited the centre and accused him of having an affair with another woman. Elizabeth overheard their conversation and spoke to the manager of the centre about what was Graham was doing to her. The manager however took her into his office and told her that her lies could get Graham into trouble and that he could go to prison. The manager never spoke to Elizabeth about her allegations again and Graham continued to abuse her on a regular basis.
A few months after this, a rumour began to circulate in the centre that Graham was having an affair with another 14 year old resident. Elizabeth was not questioned at the time about these rumours and soon noticed that her external social workers no longer came to visit her in the centre. In records written at the time, which BBK managed to locate, Elizabeth’s external social worker noted ‘…the staff seemed to want to keep all social workers out of the centre and prevent them from having close in depth discussions with the children….trying to cover up and hush up’. She also wrote that if perhaps Elizabeth had known of the allegations against Graham at the time, she could have spoken up earlier about the abuse that she was suffering at his hands.
By Christmas that year the police became involved in an investigation against Graham regarding the rumours of his relationship with the other child resident. Elizabeth’s social worker arranged for her to be interviewed by the police at a certain time so that she could sit in on the interview with her. When she arrived, however, she found that the manager of the centre had changed the time of the appointment and that it had already taken place in her absence. The manager also sat in on the interview with Elizabeth. She wrote in her notes that it was a deliberate attempt by the centre to prevent the truth from coming out and that the interviewing police officer had felt that Elizabeth was hiding something.
After approximately six months in the centre Elizabeth was taken into foster care. Despite no longer living at the centre she would still return a number of times a week where Graham would continue to abuse her. This continued for another two months until Elizabeth’s foster mother found diary entries under her bed in which she detailed the abuse that she was suffering at the hands of Graham. Upon being informed of the diary entries, Elizabeth’s social worker took the notes directly to the police to ensure that the staff at the centre did not find out. Elizabeth was interviewed by the police and Graham was charged with and convicted of a number of offences in relation to Elizabeth and the other younger resident at the centre. He was sentenced to five years imprisonment.
In 2012 Elizabeth approached BBK for help in bringing a claim against Kent County Council for the abuse that she suffered at the hands of Graham as well as the cover up of the abuse by the staff at the centre. Proceedings were quickly issued at court against the council who whilst acknowledging it was responsible for the centre and accepted responsibility for Graham’s actions, raised the fact that Elizabeth was 22 years out of time to bring her claim. The council also argued that Elizabeth, at age 15, consented to the sexual relationship with Graham.
As part of the claim BBK instructed an expert psychiatrist to prepare a report on how Elizabeth had been affected by the abuse. As a result of what Graham had done to her, Elizabeth was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and depression as well as difficulties in relationships. These symptoms were compounded by the cover up of the abuse by the staff at the centre.
A trial was set down for February 2016 but BBK managed to negotiate a large settlement for Elizabeth without the need for her to return to court to relive her ordeal. When Elizabeth instructed BBK she advised that the most important aim for her in bringing the claim was to be believed as she had been let down so badly by those who were supposed to care for her the most. To this end, Elizabeth was delighted with her settlement as she felt that she finally had justice.
Catholic Church pays £95,000 for abuse by Father Paul Francis Cullen
In 2010 BBK were contacted by Adam, who was 55 years old at the time. He and his family were parishioners of the Parish of Christ the King Church and Community Centre, where Father Paul Francis Cullen was the Parish Priest. Adam became involved in various social and religious activities arranged by Father Cullen in the course of his duties and was an altar server at the church. Between 1964 and 1972, when Adam was aged between 8 and 15 years old, he was sexually abused and assaulted by Father Cullen.
At the time Adam contacted BBK, Father Cullen had not been convicted of the offences against him and his whereabouts were unknown.
In 1991, there had been allegations brought against Father Cullen by three males who alleged that he had abused them. The CPS were proceeding against Father Cullen for these charges but he absconded following a hearing at Nottingham Magistrates’ Court in 1991. The police strongly suspected that Father Cullen went to the USA but the authorities in the USA had advised that, as Father Cullen was believed to be infirm, they would not investigate it further as extradition would be highly unlikely.
Although the difficulties in this case were clear from the outset, BBK decided to investigate further and pursue a claim against the church on the basis that the abuse took place in the course of Father Cullen’s employment and was closely connected to his role as a priest. The church denied liability at the outset.
Throughout this period, Adam continued in his own efforts to locate Father Cullen so that he could be brought to justice and kept in contact with the police.
In 2012, a European arrest warrant was approved and the police tried to locate Father Cullen in order that he may be extradited to the UK to face charges brought by Adam and two others. The police traced Father Cullen to Tenerife and sought his extradition. Father Cullen was arrested and subsequently prosecuted.
Adam’s claim was then put on hold, pending the outcome of Father Cullen’s prosecution. On 24 February 2014 at Nottingham Crown Court, Father Cullen pleaded guilty to 15 counts of indecent assault, five of committing gross indecency with a child and one of attempted buggery. On 24 March 2014 he was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment. Despite this, the church maintained its denial of liability.
The abuse and its impact, including the long struggle to bring Father Cullen to justice, had consumed Adam’s life. BBK obtained a medical report from a Consultant Psychiatrist who concluded that Adam was suffering from depression with psychotic symptoms and complex post-traumatic stress disorder. His education and employment had been affected by the abuse. The church, once again, denied that Adam had suffered in any way as a result of the abuse.
A trial was set to take place in December 2015 but at a joint settlement meeting in October 2015, the church agreed to settle Adam’s claim in the sum of £95,000.
Adam was most pleased, not only with the outcome but with the fact that BBK took his case on at a time when no other firms were willing to assist him and had it not been for this, he would still be searching for justice.
BBK secures £14,000 for victim of sexual assault by a social worker
In 1998, at the age of 15, Sarah fell pregnant. Sarah’s mother contacted social services on her behalf to ask if they could provide Sarah with support and financial assistance. When Sarah was 3 months pregnant she was visited at her home by a social worker called Sofur Rahman. During that visit, Rahman sexually assaulted Sarah.
When Sarah’s mother returned home later that day, Sarah informed her what Rahman had done to her and Sarah’s mother immediately reported him to the police. On 14 May 1999, in Southwark Crown Court, Sofur Rahman was found guilty of indecently assaulting Sarah and was sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.
In 2013, Sarah approached BBK for help in bringing a claim for compensation for the sexual assault she had suffered. As part of the claim we obtained a medical report from an expert psychiatrist who diagnosed Sarah with ongoing post traumatic symptoms, including intrusive memories and bad dreams with anxiety and avoidance of reminders of the assault.
Despite the fact that Sarah was technically out of time for bringing her claim, we successfully pursued a claim against the London Borough of Tower Hamlets on the grounds that they were responsible for the sexual assault Sarah had suffered, as they had employed Rahman at the time. We were able to secure a total award of £14,000 for Sarah, which she is delighted with.
Another Successful High Court Judgment in Claim BBK Took To Trial
Alexandra approached BBK for help in representing her in her claim for compensation against Derek Lampitt who seriously sexually abused her between the ages of 10 and 14 years old in both his and her home.
At the age of 14, Alexandra was unable to deal with what was happening to her anymore and she disclosed to a family member what Lampitt had been doing to her. A report to the police then followed. Alexandra understandably found the prospect of having to tell a stranger what had happened to her extremely daunting and still does to this day. As a result however Lampitt was prosecuted and convicted of offences against her and another two victims and was sent to prison for eight years. He was also made to sign the sex offenders register for life.
The police investigation and criminal trial however took place while Alexandra was studying for and taking her GCSE exams. As a result she found it extremely difficult to concentrate at school and her attendance and performance declined substantially. She left school at the age of 16 years old with few qualifications and poor grades in the exams that she was able to sit.
In light of the poor exam results Alexandra was unable to pursue her chosen career and she experienced difficulty securing any employment.
BBK therefore brought a claim against Lampitt directly for the abuse he inflicted upon Alexandra and the effect that it had on her life. Specialist medical experts were instructed and Alexandra was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the abuse for which she was recommended a course of treatment.
Lampitt however refused to co-operate and did not respond throughout the lifetime of the claim. To progress therefore judgment was entered against him as soon as it was possible to do so meaning that Alexandra won her claim and that it would fall to a Judge to assess the compensation she should be awarded. BBK obtained court orders for charges against Lampitt’s property in the meantime to ensure that he could not dispose of his assets to deprive Alexandra of her compensation.
As Lampitt did not respond to the claim however it meant that Alexandra had to give evidence at the final hearing in front of the Judge. In preparation however, and on the basis that Lampitt could and was entitled to attend the hearing, BBK obtained special measures for Alexandra so that she could give her evidence from behind a screen.
The Judge noted the serious effects that the abuse had had upon Alexandra and awarded her in excess of £180,000 to be paid by Lampitt as well as her legal costs. If Lampitt fails to pay this within the deadline ordered by the court BBK will take steps immediately to ensure that Alexandra receives her compensation by applying for an order to sell Lampitt’s property.
With the compensation she has been awarded, it is hoped that Alexandra will now be able to access the therapy she requires in order to help her move forward with her life. She will also now be able to return to her studies and obtain the examination results that she needs to progress in the career that she always wanted.
Claim against Scout Association settled out of court
Bolt Burdon Kemp have successfully represented a client who brought a claim for compensation against the Scout Association. The client, who is known as Gordon for the purpose of this report, experienced sexual abuse at the hands of his scoutmaster, Kevin Bretherton, whilst he was a member of 1st Amington Scouts in Tamworth.
Gordon was indecently assaulted by Bretherton in 1986 whilst he was 15 years old after he was invited to the scoutmaster’s home to watch films and discuss scouting. Although Bretherton had been convicted of offences against a number of members of the scout group in March 1988, unfortunately due to the passage of time it was impossible to obtain copies of the original court and police documentation and it was necessary to prove that Bretherton had committed offences against Gordon. There were additional obstacles to overcome as Gordon’s claim was technically out of time to bring his claim.
Bolt Burdon Kemp have a proud and successful track record of bringing claims against the Scout Association and were ideally placed to assist Gordon with his claim. We were contacted by other people who were also sexually and physically abused by Bretherton and were able to identify a number of other witnesses who were able to help us to progress the claim.
Through hard work and persistence we were able to obtain sufficient evidence to hold the Scout Association to account and were ultimately able to settle Gordon’s claim without needing to issue court proceedings on this particular occasion.
BBK Secures New Abuse Law Judgment in High Court
In 2012 Lucy approached BBK for help in her claim against Domenico Quirino. She explained that when she was 14 years old she joined a karate club at her school. Quirino was the instructor some twenty years older than her. Lucy really enjoyed karate and was soon attending four times a week. When she was 15 years old Quirino offered Lucy private tuition own free of charge and told her that he would make her a karate champion. Wanting to improve her skills Lucy gladly attended the extra sessions with him.
Soon Quirino began to send Lucy text messages outside of karate. This was then followed by messages on instant messaging sites. To begin with Lucy felt flattered that Quirino was showing her so much attention. This soon changed however as the messages became more and more frequent. The content of the messages also changed, from discussing karate to asking Lucy about boys and her sexual history. He told her that he was attracted to her and that he liked her body. Lucy quickly began to feel trapped and harassed. Quirino’s comments made Lucy feel extremely uncomfortable but she did not know what to do about the situation because he was her instructor.
When she was still 15 years old, during a karate lesson, Quirino pinned Lucy against a wall by her arms and told her that he would not release her until she kissed him. She was unable to escape as he was much stronger than her and so she had no choice but to do as he told her. After this incident Lucy did not attend lessons for a number of weeks before returning to karate hoping that Quirino would leave her alone. Sadly this was not the case despite Lucy refusing to attend any more private lessons with him.
Quirino continued to harass Lucy with messages and if she did not reply he would approach her during the group karate lessons. He began to drive Lucy home from lessons and it was during these car journeys that the abuse began to escalate. Quirino would force himself on Lucy by kissing her and touching her body under her clothes. She felt powerless to stop him. After she turned 16 years old Quirino began to have sex with Lucy – something he would try to later use against her as she was over the age of legal consent. Quirino continued to abuse Lucy in this way until she turned 18 years old.
A few years later Lucy realised that she was struggling to cope with what had happened to her and she sought advice from a counsellor. With the help of the counsellor Lucy began to address the devastating effect of what Quirino had done to her and bravely decided to report him to the police. Quirino was charged with a number of sexual offences against Lucy and despite arguing that it had been a consensual relationship he was convicted in 2012. In 2013 Quirino tried to appeal his conviction putting Lucy through even more distress but thankfully he was unsuccessful and the conviction remains.
As a result of the abuse that she suffered Lucy developed post traumatic stress disorder and depression. Such was the effect upon her that Lucy took an overdose and was admitted to hospital for treatment. Whilst she has undergone a significant amount of counselling sadly Lucy is likely to suffer reoccurrences of depression for the rest of her life.
Lucy’s education has also greatly suffered as a result of Quirino’s abuse and consequently this has affected her career. Lucy excelled in her GCSE’s at the age of 15 but as the abuse escalated she was unable to concentrate on her studies and left school during her A Level course. She was later to enrol at college but by this time she was a year behind her peers. To her credit Lucy went to university where she obtained a degree and then a Masters. At the time of reporting to the police Lucy had just begun her PhD. As a result of the stress of the investigation and the criminal trial that followed Lucy was forced to take extended periods of absence from her studies which delayed her even further. In total therefore Lucy was four years behind her peers.
On Lucy’s instructions BBK brought a claim for compensation against Quirino for what he had done to her. Whilst Quirino initially responded to the claim upon being notified, he then proceeded to bury his head in the sand and ignore all correspondence. In order to progress the claim BBK therefore quickly issued proceedings at court against him. It then became clear that Quirino had sold his house and moved elsewhere in, what we presume, was an attempt to remain unknown and avoid the claim. With the help of a detective however BBK were able to track Quirino down and secured judgment against him at court in light of his lack of response. This meant that Lucy had won her claim and successful applications for interim payments of damages and Lucy’s legal costs were made. When Quirino then failed to pay the amounts that Lucy had been awarded, charging orders were quickly registered against his new property to protect those awards should he try to sell his property again to avoid payment.
As a result of his continued failure to deal with the claim BBK were forced to take the case to trial to be heard before a High Court Judge at the Royal Courts of Justice last month in order to resolve the claim for Lucy. Sadly this meant that she would have to give evidence in court again. Surprisingly Quirino attended this final hearing but in anticipation of this a successful application had already been made to the court for Lucy to give her evidence from behind a screen to spare her further distress.
The case was heard by His Honour Judge Wood QC who awarded an amount of compensation in excess of £170,000 to be paid by Quirino in addition to Lucy’s legal costs. Of this amount, £105,000 was specifically awarded for the delay to Lucy’s career. If, as it is suspected, Quirino fails to pay this award to Lucy within the deadline ordered by the court, BBK will immediately register charges against his property to the value of the final debt owed. An application to court will then follow for an order for the sale of his property to realise the compensation that Lucy has been awarded and so deserves.
Siblings successful in their claims against Leicestershire County Council for gross negligence
John and Lucy, who are brother and sister, approached BBK for help in suing Leicestershire County Council for neglect and sexual abuse that they had suffered as children.
From a young age social services were involved in their family in Leicestershire where they lived with their mother and her partner. Their home was noted by social workers to be extremely dirty, their clothes were too small for them and they smelt of urine. Both John and Lucy regularly suffered from head lice and were often sent home from school in real distress. Teachers also noticed that they were always very hungry at school and would often steal food from other children.
Once home from school Lucy and John were locked in their bedrooms and put to bed at 5pm. They had no toys to play with, very little bedding and no light in their bedrooms. Both were forced to go to the toilet in their bedrooms. Social workers for the council were aware of this but took no action to protect them.
Lucy and John were regularly beaten by their mother and her partner in the home and were often covered in bruises. When Lucy was four years old she disclosed to a school nurse that she had been touched by her mother’s partner. Further reports of physical and sexual abuse followed and social workers were made aware yet no steps were taken to remove the children.
Despite repeated protests and concerns from neighbours, teachers, a housing officer and health professionals regarding Lucy and John’s safety they were not removed from the care of their mother and her partner by social services until 2002 when they were aged 7 years 10 months and 6 years 10 months old respectively.
Although they were removed from the home and placed together with foster parents, Lucy and John were still however made to visit their mother and partner at a child-parent contact centre. It was during these meetings that they were told to keep quiet about the abuse that they had suffered. They would be given crisps, sweets and chocolate along with the promises of new toys if they kept quiet. Lucy and John advised social services of what was happening during these contact visits but they were still made to attend. Instead they were told by social workers to make a signal to them whenever this happened.
Over time as Lucy and John settled down in their new home with loving foster parents they began to disclose the extent of the sexual abuse that they had suffered at the hands of their mother’s partner and his brother. This information was recorded by their foster mother in a series of diaries over the years. Both children revealed that they had been raped by these men in their home. They were told that it was ‘their little secret’ and give them biscuits and sweets to keep their silence.
In December 2002 Lucy and John were interviewed by the police. Understandably traumatised, the children made no disclosures. What proceeded was a lengthy police investigation and it was not until 2011 that the children were able to fully disclose what had happened to them to the police. The investigation then took a few further years to complete because of the large number of social services records that had to be reviewed and the amount of witnesses that had to be interviewed. Whilst reviewing the social services records we understand that the police noted repeated concerns from various sources regarding Lucy and John in the years before they were removed from home by social services.
In approximately 2010 their mother’s partner and his brother were charged with serious sexual abuse offences against both Lucy and John. Their mother was charged with cruelty and neglect. As the men pleaded not guilty Lucy and John were forced to give evidence at trial.
In late 2011 all three were found guilty and given lengthy prison sentences. The men were also both banned from ever working with children, ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life and subject to an indeterminate sexual offences prevention order.
The trial judge was extremely critical of social services and concluded in his summary that ‘these children were grossly neglected.’ He was also extremely critical of the way that social services had assisted the children in preparing for the trial. The council later admitted that social services owed the children a ‘huge apology’ and that social services ‘had a lot to answer for.’
BBK therefore brought a claim against Leicestershire County Council who denied responsibility throughout the lifetime of the claim despite the damning evidence we had found and it repeatedly refused to disclose their full social services files. In early 2015 however the council put forward offers of settlement to both of these clients which were accepted. Hopefully this will go a long way towards giving them the closure that they deserve.
34th Lancaster (St Chad’s) Scout Group pays out for abuse claim
Bolt Burdon Kemp represented three clients who had all been abused by Kevin Pilling, the scout leader of the 34th Lancasters, in the 1990’s and 2000. Our clients first contacted local solicitors who advised them that they had no claim against the scouts. However when they came to us for a second opinion, we immediately saw the merit in their cases. On receipt of a formal letter setting out our clients’ cases against them, the Scout Association accepted responsibility and we recovered a total of £340,000 in compensation.
Cambridgeshire County Council pays £550,000 for abuse by teacher
In 2012 Naomi approached BBK for help following serious abuse that she suffered at the hands of her music teacher at a school in Cambridgeshire between 1991 and 1995. She had previously been turned away by a number of other law firms who told her they could not assist.
Naomi explained that she had reported the abuse to the police in 1998 on her 23rd birthday. She told police how the teacher had first raped her when she was 15 years old on school premises and the abuse continued over a four year period, even after she had left the school. The police interviewed the teacher who admitted that he had indeed had a sexual relationship with Naomi but that it had begun after she was 18 years old. In his interview he stated that it was a consensual relationship that ended because he was in love with a 15 year old pupil of his at that same school. At the time of his arrest he was also found to be in email contact with another pupil from a school in Plaistow, London where he had moved on to after leaving the school in Cambridgeshire in 1995.
Somehow the teacher was released without charge and is now believed to be living abroad. The police however confirmed that he would be banned from teaching for life and was placed on List 99, the equivalent today of the Sex Offenders Register. Of particular interest in this case however, the police also revealed to Naomi that the teacher had previously been employed at another school which was also under the authority of Cambridgeshire County Council, where he was charged with serious sexual offences against two pupils. Although he was found not guilty at trial he was then shortly after offered a position at Naomi’s school where he proceeded to teach without facing any disciplinary procedures or supervision. BBK managed to find documentary proof of this from records that still existed in the teacher’s personnel file, suggesting serious failings had taken place. It was these failings that allowed Naomi to be groomed and abused by the teacher.
We quickly obtained Naomi’s medical records which showed that shortly after the abuse began she developed anorexia which was to haunt her for many years. Reporting to the police also proved to be the catalyst for a breakdown which then led to nearly twenty years of serious mental health issues including self harming and numerous suicide attempts.
As part of the claim we obtained medical reports from an expert psychiatrist who diagnosed her with depression, chronic post traumatic stress disorder and a harmful use of alcohol. As a result of these issues Naomi has never been able to hold down a job for longer than a few months and the prognosis for the future was that this pattern would continue and that she would need psychiatric input for life.
BBK therefore brought Naomi’s claim against Cambridgeshire County Council who denied liability throughout the lifetime of the claim despite the damning evidence we had found.
We obtained a successful settlement in the sum of £550,000 for Naomi. This will enable her to attempt to move on with her life knowing that she is now financially secure.
By obtaining this settlement we secured one of the highest awards in an abuse case ever in the UK.
Ministry of Defence admit liability for two claims of abuse in Cadets
In August 2011 two of our clients, who were at the time both aged 12 years old, attended a week long camp with the Leicestershire, Northamptonshire & Rutland Army Cadet Force. Whilst they were at the camp they suffered shocking acts of sexual assaults and violence by two of the Corporals who were only a few years older than themselves. To make matters even worse the Corporals themselves disclosed to a higher ranking Sergeant what they had done to our clients and his response was to laugh. This made our clients feel that they were powerless to stop it and the attacks continued on a nightly basis.
After the camp, our clients reported to the police and the Corporals were given warnings for their behaviour which our clients were angry and disappointed with. Shortly after BBK was instructed to pursue claims for compensation on their behalf.
We successfully pursued the claims by arguing that the Ministry of Defence was responsible for the abuse of the two Corporals as it had been committed by them as representatives of the organisation. Unusually in these cases, the Ministry of Defence admitted liability at an early stage which was of some comfort to our clients.
As part of the claims we argued that the assaults had affected their education and as a result they would require additional tuition to catch up in their studies. Both clients were also affected very badly psychologically and required extensive treatment as a result of what had happened to them.
We were able to successfully obtain awards of compensation in the sums of £23,500 and £26,500 respectively for our clients which were then approved by the court because they were minors. This money will remain invested in the court until these clients turn 18 years old however, we were able to argue that the court should release some funds to them now in order to fund additional tuition and counselling sessions which was accepted.
Scout Association admit liability in successful claim for compensation
In approximately 1997, aged 11 years old, our client joined the 1st Itchen South Scout Group in Woolsten, Southampton where the scout leader was Eamound Tallon. When our client was aged between 13-15 years old he was seriously sexually abused by Tallon in the scouts hut.
In around 2003 our client was contacted by the police investigating allegations of sexual abuse against Tallon following the disclosure of abuse by another of his victims. In December 2003 Tallon was convicted of numerous offences against our client and others and was sentenced to prison.
Our client then instructed BBK to pursue a compensation claim on his behalf. This was a difficult claim given that some of the abuse had taken place in Tallon’s own home and the client was technically out of time to bring a claim because he was over 21 years old. As part of the claim we argued that our client’s education and career had been affected by the abuse of Tallon.
We successfully pursued the claim by arguing that the Scout Association was responsible for the abuse as it had been committed by Tallon as one of its employees. We were able to obtain an interim payment of compensation for our client and then went on to secure a total award of £23,000 which he was delighted with.
Bolt Burdon Kemp helps child abuse victim sue social services for serious failings
In 2012 Laura approached Bolt Burdon Kemp for help in bringing a claim against social services at Bradford Metropolitan District Council.
Laura explained that when she was ten years old she disclosed to a passing police officer that her father had been sexually abusing her for the past four years.
BBK quickly obtained Laura’s social services files and following a review of the records it was abundantly clear that Laura had been let down in the worst possible way by those who were supposed to protect her.
The records revealed that after her disclosure to the police Laura was, quite rightly, immediately removed from home and placed on the child protection register to protect her from any further abuse. She was placed in a children’s home. Laura’s father was arrested and charged with numerous horrendous offences against both her and her stepsister however he was found not guilty at trial of all the offences he had been charged with.
After the trial Laura returned to the children’s home for a few days before social services took the decision to move Laura back home. In doing this, social services failed to protect her and within a few weeks of returning Laura began to be abused again by her father.
What followed was a period of months during which Laura continued to report to social services that she was being abused but she was not listened to, and social services even removed her from the child protection register. Shortly after returning home Laura discovered that she was pregnant and underwent a termination. No action was taken by social services and, again, over the course of the next few months Laura continued to tell her social workers that she was being abused. When Laura was 16 she then discovered that she was six months pregnant and soon gave birth to her child. By this time social services were no longer involved with Laura and her family and had effectively turned a blind eye leaving her to support her young child alone.
In 2012 the police became involved in the case again and, despite not being believed the first time, she found the courage to report her father again. Laura’s father was soon charged again with numerous sexual offences against both her and her stepsister and this time he was found guilty at trial and sentenced to 19 years imprisonment. DNA tests carried out by the police at the time confirmed that Laura’s child was in fact her own father’s child as a result of the abuse that she suffered. This is something that Laura struggles with on a daily basis as a constant reminder of what her father did to her.
As part of the claim BBK obtained medical reports from expert psychiatrists who spoke with both Laura and her child. These reports revealed that as a result of the abuse that she had endured, Laura was suffering from depression, post traumatic stress disorder and an attachment disorder to her child. They desperately needed help with these issues.
BBK therefore brought a claim against the council who admitted that there were failings in the case. We have now obtained a settlement in the sum of £160,000 for Laura. Whilst no amount of money will ever make up for what she has been through, she is now able to obtain the treatment that her and her child require in order to attempt to move on with their lives knowing that they are now financially secure.
MoD pays £210,000 for abuse by Army Cadet officer
We recently succeeded in a claim against the Ministry of Defence for sexual abuse by one of their employees. Our client was sexually abused by her Adult Instructor whilst she was a member of the Army Cadets. The abuse commenced when our client was 14 years old and progressed to rape, which resulted in our client falling pregnant and giving birth to the abuser’s child.
During the period of abuse, our client developed psychological problems, depressive symptoms and panic attacks as a result of which her social development was significantly damaged. Following the abuse, she suffered from chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic dysthymia and a number of complex psychological problems which caused her distress and affected her life adversely. The abuse occurred at a vital time not only in our client’s personal but also in her educational development. She was distracted from her education by the abuse and also physically removed from school by her abuser on many occasions, which resulted in her performing poorly at school and not being able to continue with further education. Our client’s ambition from a young age was to join the Army and be an officer in the Royal Military Police. This was made completely impossible by the abuse as a result of which she could no longer have anything to do with the Army as this was one of the triggers from her post-traumatic panic symptoms and distress.
The Ministry of Defence admitted liability at an early stage and upon receipt of our medical and employment evidence, which was very supportive of our client’s claim, settled the claim for £210,000. Our client was very happy with this settlement as it would allow her to receive treatment and secure a better future for her and her child.
Wiltshire Council pays £130,000 for abuse by music teacher at The Corsham School
Our client, Ms T, suffered severe sexual abuse at the hands of her music teacher at the Corsham School, owned by Wiltshire Council, between the ages of 15 and 23 years old. She reported the abuse to the police in June 2010 and in November 2012 her abuser was convicted and sentenced to 12 years imprisonment.
As a result of the abuse, Ms T suffered from self-harm, an eating disorder, depression and low mood, poor sleep, nightmares and flashbacks. She was assessed by a Consultant Psychiatrist who diagnosed that she was suffering from an anxiety disorder, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder and sexual dysfunction. The experience of abuse damaged her ability to form and enjoy relationships and her anxiety and distrust of men had driven her to leave her employment.
We brought a claim against Wiltshire Council, the authority responsible for the school, on the basis that they employed the teacher and were therefore vicariously liable for the acts of abuse committed by him in the course of his employment. The Council eventually admitted liability and we secured a settlement of £130,000 for Ms T, which will help her move forward with her life.
Challenging the time limits for bringing claims – leading judgment in the House of Lords
We represented two men who had been abused as children by their form teacher in a London school in the 1980s. It was only after they had grown up, and were in their late 20′s that they independently started to come to terms with what happened to them, and the effect that the abuse was still having on their lives. They had co-operated with the police in bringing their abuser to justice through the criminal courts, but when it came to a compensation claim they were technically ‘out of time’.
We sued the abuser’s employers, who maintained throughout that the claims were time barred and took their case as a test case first to trial at the Mayors & City County Court in October 2005 where our clients lost, but were given permission to appeal. Their case was heard in the Court of Appeal in April 2006 – our clients lost but the judges were sympathetic and allowed a further appeal to the House of Lords, which gave judgment in January 2008.
Both our clients won, the Law Lords accepting that the old law was wrong, and overturned a previous House of Lords decision (an extremely rare event). The case, X & Y v London Borough of Wandsworth was one of a group of cases (known as A v Hoare and other appeals) which has changed the law and effectively allows child abuse victims the same rights as other personal injury claimants to apply to the court to waive the time limits in cases where otherwise a fair trial would still be possible. Our clients won damages of £57,000 and £70,000 respectively, as well as payment of their legal costs from the London Borough which had opposed them all the way.
Army cadets succeed in £900,000 child abuse claim
Bolt Burdon Kemp acted for four clients who were abused when they were members of the Army Cadets in Harborne, Birmingham when they were youngsters. The abuse was perpetrated by two of the Captains/ instructors of the cadet force and it became apparent when investigating the case that sexual abuse of the most severe kind was going on behind the closed doors of the army hut, the rifle range and at camp. Not only that but the abuse within the Cadets was openly acknowledged within a permissive atmosphere, and appeared to be accepted as the norm. The Ministry of Defence employed the instructors so they became legally responsible for their actions.
In September 2007, one of the instructors Peter Cooper was convicted of buggery and indecent assault in relation to one of the claimants at Stafford Crown Court. He was a serving police officer with the West Midlands Constabulary at the time of his arrest. Within the compensation claim we were able to successfully argue that the limitation period of three years should be dis-applied, because a fair trial was still possible, even though three of the Claimants had not secured convictions, and one of the abusers had died.
All the clients had been severely affected by their ordeals, from the time of the abuse to the present day, and the abuse had taken its toll – all had suffered psychiatric problems and most had problems with work, their home life and relationships. We were able to secure a full admission of liability from the Ministry of Defence, who agreed to settle the cases to avoid court in February 2011. The negotiations resulted in the biggest compensation pay-out for a child abuse case that Bolt Burdon Kemp has dealt with. Whilst no amount of money can ever fully compensate the claimants, the financial settlement is a great result for the individuals and their families, who will hopefully be able to achieve some closure on the abuse.
The Ministry of Defence provided a written apology to our clients acknowledging the mistakes made and the deep regret that it feels for allowing the abuse to happen.
One of the highest awards of damages for a client represented in court by our very own solicitor-advocate
Bolt Burdon Kemp secured one of the highest ever awards for general damages on behalf of a victim of child abuse. Between the ages of 11 and 16 Mrs G was regularly and seriously sexually abused by her grandfather. Like most victims, Mrs G was unable to tell anybody about the abuse at the time.
Whilst at university, when studying to become a teacher, she was required to study a module about child abuse and was unable to cope. This prompted her to reveal to her friends that she had been abused. In time, she revealed the abuse to her family and reported her grandfather to the police. He was convicted and sentenced to eight years imprisonment.
The abuse had a profound effect upon Mrs G. She felt unable to continue with her studies and abandoned her dream of becoming a teacher. She suffered from various psychiatric conditions which impacted upon her day to day living. Bolt Burdon Kemp’s Solicitor-Advocate, David McClenaghan, represented Mrs G throughout her case and appeared in the High Court before Mr Justice Leighton Williams QC.
The Judge agreed with our submissions that Mrs G had been profoundly affected by the abuse and awarded her £82,500 for general damages, which is one of the highest ever awards for a victim of abuse. He also accepted our submissions that the abuse was the cause of Mrs G abandoning her ambition of becoming a teacher and awarded her £105,000 in respect of lost earnings. He additionally awarded her damages to pay for psychological treatment that she had been advised to undertake, plus interest. Mrs G’s total award of damages was in excess of £199,000.
Trent College settles out of court
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully represented Mr A in his claim for compensation for childhood sexual abuse suffered at the hands of two school teachers at Trent College. The abuse took place between 1981 and 1983, when Mr A was a pupil. He was aged 13 to 15 years old at the time and was subjected on numerous occasions to serious sexual assaults at the hands of two teachers who also abused many other pupils at the school.
Mr A did not tell the College about the abuse, or report it to the police at the time. In fact for over 20 years he kept silent about the abuse he had suffered. The claimant’s educational performance and behaviour deteriorated as the abuse intensified and when he was 15 years old he was told that he would have to leave the school or be expelled. The abuse had a profound and lasting effect upon the claimant. He suffered from post traumatic stress disorder and depression. He performed poorly in school exams and struggled to form a career.
Notwithstanding the fact that neither teacher was ever criminally convicted of sexually assaulting Mr A, a claim was successfully brought against Trent College on the basis that they were vicariously liable for the acts of abuse committed by their two employees. We initially secured early interim payments for Mr A which allowed him to have much needed psychiatric treatment before ultimately securing a final settlement in the sum of £125,000.
Even after death, the law catches up with a paedophile as his estate pays out in a compensation claim
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully represented RSA in his claim for compensation for childhood sexual abuse suffered at the hands of organist David Sanger (deceased).
The abuse took place between 1978 and 1982, when RSA was a member of St Laurence’s Church choir in Catford. He was aged 12 to 15 years old at the time and was subjected on numerous occasions to serious sexual assaults by Sanger. Sanger also introduced our client to a man named Andrew Chambers who abused him on one occasion.
RSA did not report Sanger or Chambers to police until 2009 when he saw a news item regarding a man who used to work with Chambers. Sanger was arrested in May 2010 and charged with numerous offences against our client. Upon being released on bail he committed suicide. Chambers had already been investigated for sexual abuse against children and had already been imprisoned with a maximum sentence.
RSA’s educational performance and behaviour deteriorated during the abuse. His abuser plied him with alcohol from the age of 12 and to date he is still an alcoholic. The abuse therefore had a profound and lasting effect upon him. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder and an enduring personality disorder. He has failed to hold down a job as a result of his alcoholism and will never work again due to his health issues.
Notwithstanding the fact that Sanger was never criminally convicted of sexually assaulting RSA, a claim was successfully brought against Sanger’s estate and the church on the basis that it was vicariously liable for the acts of abuse committed by Sanger as its employee. We successfully secured RSA a settlement of £160,000 which will now provide him with the essential medical treatment he needs.
Criminal injuries compensation for shaken baby
Miss E sustained catastrophic brain injury when she was two months old, as a result of a violent shaking by her father who subsequently pleaded guilty to the offence of assault causing grievous bodily harm. As a result of her injuries Miss E suffered cerebral palsy affecting all four of her limbs, with fits and seizures controlled by medication. She would have significant developmental delays and extensive health and care needs, unable to sit up or roll over and with poor vision.
We achieved the maximum award of £250,000.00 for the injuries themselves within 2 years of applying to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority for compensation. In addition we successfully persuaded the CICA to pay the costs of setting up and administering the trust fund, when normally those costs would be deducted from the award.
Former pupil of Clifton College secures £200,000 damages settlement
Bolt Burdon Kemp recently secured a £200,000 settlement on behalf of our client who was sexually abused by a teacher at Clifton College.
Our client Mr X was a pupil at Clifton College Preparatory School and Clifton College Upper School in the late 1980s. Whilst at the Preparatory School, our client’s teacher ‘groomed’ him by singling him out for special treatment and praise and would make our client sit on his knee during school lessons. When our client graduated to the Clifton College Upper School, the teacher would invite him to his house and from there, he repeatedly sexually abused our client over a period of four years. When our client left Clifton College to attend another school, the teacher maintained his contact with him and continued to abuse him.
It was not until many years later that our client was able to confront his past abusive experiences and in 2007, he reported the abuse to the police which resulted in the teacher being convicted of numerous sexual offences. Our client then instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp to pursue a compensation claim on his behalf. We successfully pursued the claim by arguing that Clifton College was responsible for the abuse as it had been committed by one of their teachers. Clifton College tried to argue that they were not responsible for the abuse as most of it occurred after our client had left their school, but at a round table settlement meeting they agreed to pay £200,000.
Church responsible for abuse of a pupil in bible class
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully represented CDX in his claim for compensation for childhood sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Peter Stewart.
The abuse took place between 1994 and 1996, when CDX was a member of St Mary Bredin Church, Canterbury youth group and also attended confirmation classes there. He was aged 12 to 14 years old at the time and was subjected on numerous occasions to serious sexual assaults by Stewart who was the leader of the groups at the church at the time.
CDX reported Stewart to police in 2007 at the age of 25. It took some time to locate Stewart and he was eventually found teaching in a primary school in Hampshire. Stewart was charged with offences against CDX and convicted in 2011. CDX has struggled with relationships as a result of the abuse by Stewart. He also misuses alcohol and has been diagnosed with a personality disorder. The claim was successfully brought against Stewart himself and the church on the basis that it was vicariously liable for the acts of abuse committed by Stewart as its employee.
We successfully secured CDX a settlement of £50,000 which can hopefully help him to begin the difficult process of moving on with his life.
Rossall School pays out for teacher’s sexual abuse
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully represented Mr P in his claim for compensation for childhood sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Robert Anthony Brunskill. Tony Brunskill, as he was known, was a former teacher at Rossall School in Lancashire.
Mr P joined Rossall School as a boarding pupil in 1976 when he was 8 years old and stayed at the school until he was 18. Brunskill lived in a flat on Rossall School premises and when Mr P was aged 10 years old, Brunskill ordered our client to visit him in his flat once school was finished for the day. From this point Brunskill started to groom Mr P which led on to Brunskill sexually abusing our client. The sexual abuse was of the most serious kind and lasted until Brunskill left Rossall School in about 1979.
Mr P did not tell anybody about the abuse, or report it to the police at the time. It was only in 2011, when Mr P read in the news that Brunskill was in prison having been convicted for other child sex offences that he felt able to report the abuse to the police. Brunskill subsequently admitted Mr P’s allegations and his prison sentence was increased by a further four years. The abuse has affected Mr P throughout his life and has impacted upon his relationship with his family.
Mr P instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp to bring a claim against Rossall School for failing to protect him from Brunskill and we successfully recovered £75,000 in damages on his behalf.
Suing mum for failing to protect child from abuse by dad
From the age of 8 to 13 Ms X was abused by her foster father. She was able to consider taking legal action when she was 32 but by then the statutory time limit (which at the time was a non-extendable 6 years to bring a claim against the foster father for assault) had expired. In one of the first cases of its kind, we sued the foster mother for failing to protect our client from the abuse and successfully argued that the 3 year time limit which applied to that case should be extended. Ms X recovered £25,000.00.
Bolt Burdon Kemp successful in claim against the Scout Association
Mr P was a member of the 1st Ormskirk Scout Group between approximately 1982 and 1986, when he was aged between 10 and 14. During the course of his membership he was sexually abused by the group’s scout master.
Like many victims of childhood sexual abuse, it was not until years later that Mr P realised that his abusive experiences had had a profound effect on him. He initially contacted the Scout Association directly in 2009 and requested that they assist him in obtaining counselling in respect of the difficulties he was experiencing. The Scout Association declined to assist Mr P and in an effort to access the psychiatric treatment he required, he instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp to act on his behalf. We argued that the Scout Association were vicariously liable for the acts of their scout master in the face of their defence that they could not be liable for him as he was a volunteer and not an employee.
The claim was further complicated by the fact that the scout master had committed suicide prior to standing trial. Because he hadn’t been convicted in the criminal courts, the Defendant denied that the abuse had taken place at all. We made a successful application for disclosure of documents held by the police force that had conducted the criminal investigation which revealed that the scout master had confessed to his crimes before he died. Only then did the Defendant admit that the abuse had occurred. We successfully negotiated a settlement for Mr P in the sum of £45,000.
Boys Brigade pays victim of abuse £25,000 in compensation
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully represented Mr G in his claim for compensation for childhood sexual abuse suffered at the hands of a Boys’ Brigade Captain in the 1980s.
Mr G was a member of the 2nd Maidenhead Boys’ Brigade Company when he was aged between 8 and 16. It was there that he met the Brigade Captain who ran the Company. The Brigade Captain was friendly towards our client and singled him out for special attention. After a period of about two years, this grooming behaviour progressed to serious sexual abuse.
The Brigade Captain was considered by most to be a pillar in the local community and he was a prominent member of the local Methodist Church. As such, our client felt it was impossible for him to report the abuse to anybody. It was not until over twenty years later and only after the Brigade Captain had died that our client felt able to report the abuse to the police.
Mr G subsequently instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp to pursue a compensation claim against the Boys’ Brigade for their failure to protect him. We launched an extensive investigation which revealed that another Boys’ Brigade member had reported the Brigade Captain to the Police in the 1990s for inappropriate behaviour. With this evidence in hand, we brought proceedings against the Boys’ Brigade and successfully recovered £25,000 in compensation for Mr G.
Child ‘sold’ to paedophile ring gets judgment against his abusers
We represented the Claimant in the reported case of BJM v Eyre & others, now one of the leading cases on the assessment of damages in child abuse cases.
Our client aged 12 was befriended Nathan Eyre, the First Defendant, and groomed for sex. Eyre worked as a male prostitute and also hired out a number of boys as ‘clients’ for the purposes of sexual activity. He brought a series of adult men to his flat for the purpose of using the Claimant for their sexual gratification and in turn Eyre received payment for the Claimant’s services. He then ‘sold’ our client to another paedophile, Raymond Hawthorne for £500, so that Hawthorne could profit from our client in a similar way, ‘hiring’ him out to his contacts. Our client endured the most serious kind of sexual assault and was given drugs and alcohol to mask the pain and make him more compliant with the demands put upon him.
Having been abducted by Hawthorne over a period of 7 days, our client was recovered by the police, who prosecuted a number of individuals successfully including Eyre and Hawthorne. Our client then brought a claim for compensation against them and was awarded over £200,000 in damages by Dame Justice Smith, hearing the case at Leeds High Court in November 2010. In particular, she awarded sums for aggravated damages against our client’s abusers as well as loss of earnings on a calculated approach, on the basis that our client had lost the opportunity to work as a chef after he had left school.
Cornwall Council pays £65,000 for abuse by head teacher
We recently secured a settlement of £65,000 for our client, Mr B, who was sexually abused by his head teacher at Charlestown Primary School in Cornwall between the ages of 4 and 11 years old. Mr B bravely disclosed the abuse to the police when he was about 12 years old and his abuser was convicted and sentenced to 18 months imprisonment.
The abuse had been severely damaging; it had a very disruptive effect on Mr B’s childhood, it disrupted his personal development and adversely affected his education and employment. Over the years, the abuse gave rise to a variety of psychological problems and resulted in Mr B developing a recurrent depressive disorder.
We brought a claim against Cornwall Council, the authority responsible for the school, on the basis that they employed the head teacher and were therefore vicariously liable for the acts of abuse committed by him in the course of his employment. Notwithstanding various arguments raised by the Council against Mr B’s claim, we successfully recovered £65,000, which for him signified a long overdue acknowledgement that what happened to him as a child was wrong.
Ealing abbey sex abuse claim settled out of court
A former pupil of a scandal-ridden Catholic school will receive £50,000 in compensation for abuse suffered at the hands of notorious priest Father David Pearce. Bolt Burdon Kemp represented the man, a former pupil of St Benedict’s Independent School run by the monks of Ealing Abbey.
The former pupil – who cannot be named for legal reasons – claimed that he was regularly sexually abused by the former headmaster of the junior school, Father David Pearce. The abuse took place over a twelve year period in the 1980’s and 1990’s and started when as a boy he was just 10 years old. His claims were validated at Isleworth Crown Court in July 2009 when Pearce was convicted of 5 counts of indecent assault against him, as well as offences against other boys who attended the school, and sentenced to 5 years’ imprisonment. Father Pearce was known to pupils at the fee-paying, all-boys school as “Gay Dave” and he had a reputation among the students for favouritism and inappropriate sexual behaviour. He was due to be released from prison in April 2012.
Allegations of sexual abuse by pupils at St Benedict’s date as far back as the 1960′s and go right up to 2009, and have been levelled against monks, priests and teachers. As well as Father David Pearce, John Maestri, a lay teacher at the school was convicted of crimes against children in 2003 and 2005. Father Laurence Soper, the former Abbot of Ealing Abbey, recently refused to answer bail to be questioned about his own role, and was last known to be working at the headquarters of the Benedictine order in Rome although he now appears to be on the run from the police. An international warrant is now out for his arrest and if he is caught he too is likely to be charged with sexual offences against children. Further allegations against others are still being investigated.
In October 2011, the Pope ordered an historic apostolic visitation to look into the sexual abuse scandal involving pupils at St Benedict’s. This is the first time such an investigation has been ordered by the Vatican in England.
First ‘failure to retain in care’ case to succeed at trial (and again on appeal)
Back in December 2007, we made legal history by taking the first child abuse compensation case of its kind to trial at the High Court. We represented Jake Pierce (who waived his right to anonymity) in his claim against the London Borough of Doncaster. Jake was born in 1976 to a family which was already known to the local Social Services department.
Because of grave concerns by social services, he was removed into foster care at an early age, and stayed in care for 15 months until, with a change of personnel at the council, he was allowed back home with his parents. He went on to be horribly abused until he was 14, when he ran away to escape his brutal home life. It was alleged that social services failed to properly monitor him having returned him home.
The case was strongly contested and went to trial in the High Court in London. Mr Justice Eady accepted our case that Jake had been abused and that – knowing what they knew – no reasonable local authority would have placed him back with his parents. Jake was awarded £25,000 for the physical injuries caused by the abuse he suffered at home. Doncaster appealed and the Court of Appeal gave its judgment in December 2008 – the law lords accepted the trial judge’s ruling that Doncaster had indeed been negligent and had exposed our client to abuse and neglect when a child by his parents.
Foster parents sell house to meet compensation payment
We acted for two brothers who alleged they had been physically and emotionally abused by their foster parents when living in London and Norfolk. Before trial, the foster parents agreed to settle the claims but without an admission of liability. Due to late payment of the agreed sums, we had to obtain court orders against the foster parents who eventually had to sell one of their houses to meet the damages and costs owed.
Evangelical church settles claim against pastor for sexually abusing a child
We have successfully secured compensation for a former member of the Glory House Church in respect of sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Pastor Albert Odulele.
Our client was a child member of the congregation at the evangelical church, based in the Docklands area of East London. Through the Church, our client came into contact with Pastor Albert Odulele. Pastor Odulele singled out our client and volunteered to act as a mentor to him. Pastor Odulele would regularly invite our client to visit him and stay with him in his house under the guise of mentoring our client and teaching him religious studies.
On one of our client’s overnight stays at Pastor Odulele’s house, he was awoken in the middle of the night to discover that Pastor Odulele had been sexually assaulting him whilst he was asleep. Our client later reported Odulele to the police, and he was prosecuted and convicted. Our client instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp to pursue his claim for compensation and we swiftly secured a settlement on his behalf in the sum of £15,000.
Grandfather to sell house to pay for abuse compensation
Bolt Burdon Kemp’s client had been regularly sexually abused by her grandfather between the ages of eight and fourteen. As she got older she begun to realise that the abuse was wrong and managed to find the strength to tell her parents and then the police. Her grandfather was prosecuted and sent to prison for what the sentencing judge called “one of the worst cases of sexual offending I have ever had to deal with, constituting, as it does, a gross abuse of trust”.
During the period of abuse, our client was suffering from a brain tumour for which she was receiving treatment at the local hospital. One of the exacerbating factors of her grandfather’s offending is that he abused her whilst she was in hospital, and gave her alcohol to make her more compliant with his demands, causing her headaches and possibly unnecessary treatment when the headaches were assumed to be caused by her tumour.
We sued the grandfather in prison. Although he initially admitted full responsibility, he then tried to partially withdraw that admission, only accepting that he had committed the specimen offences he had been convicted of, and claiming that many of the sexual acts were instigated by our client, which was particularly upsetting for her. There was however a keen desire on both sides to settle the claim and after negotiations a successful outcome was achieved. We obtained a charging order over the grandfather’s property which had to be sold to pay the damages agreed.
Hackney should have removed child from abusive home
We acted for Ms R who successfully claimed damages against London Borough of Hackney, who settled her claim for £57,500 plus costs. Our client was the oldest of 3 siblings who were subjected to physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their mother and step father. We argued that social services should have taken action to remove the children into care at an earlier stage. Our client in fact had to take her own court proceedings when aged 16 to get her younger brother and sister out of the abusive environment in which they all lived, which had been contested by the Council. In addition to the compensation, our client received an apology in person from the Director of Children’s Services at the Council.
Test case on ‘close connection’ to employment succeeds in the Court of Appeal
When is an employer responsible for the actions of its child abusing employee? We took a precedent- setting case to the Court of Appeal on this issue in 2006. The law states that in order for an employer to be liable in compensation for the actions of a paedophile that they employed, there has to be a ‘close connection’ to their employment: That can be in terms of what they do in their job (if they are employed to look after kids, and abuse that trust, then their employer is liable) and also in terms of where the abuse occurs. Our client was sexually assaulted by his school teacher who had taken him off the school premises to abuse him out of school hours. The Defendants argued that this was not closely connected to the teacher’s employment. The Court of Appeal however accepted that the teacher looked after pupils, and that he used his time with our client at school to groom him for the abuse, and arrange their after school meetings. The Local Authority lost the point, and our client was allowed to pursue his claim for damages against them.
Leicester City Council pay out £400,000
Bolt Burdon Kemp represented five out of seven children (now adults) who were abused by a DJ at the Granby Halls roller skating rink in Leicester between 1978 and 1999. Leicester City Council paid £400,000 in compensation and legal costs and orders settling the action were signed off by the High Court in London in July 2008. Barry Spencer worked at Granby Halls from the 1960’s until it shut in 1998. He was jailed for 15 years in January 2006 after admitting 69 sexual assaults on 15 girls and one boy. Since then, some of his victims had been fighting for compensation from the Council that employed him. Leicester denied liability from the word go, and whilst settlement was obtained without a formal admission of liability, the Council’s insurers would not have paid the money without a strong case to answer. Publicity for the plight of Spencer’s victims in the Leicester Mercury newspaper was crucial to tracing witnesses and a Freedom of Information Act request for relevant documents, as well as time spent going through the Leicester Council archives was time well spent in building the case against Spencer’s employers.
Local authority denies abuse – but pays out before trial
In I -v- D, we acted for a client who had been sexually abused whilst placed in the care of her local authority many years ago. The man who abused her was the manager of the children’s home, and he had since died. Our client was extremely affected by the abuse and could not come to terms with what had happened to her for some years. We alleged that the local authority was responsible for her while she had been in care, and had failed to protect her. At all stages, solicitors for the local authority argued that our client had issued proceedings “out of time” and therefore could not recover damages. They also denied that their client was responsible. By doggedly pursuing several court applications for relevant documents we found out that the council had had suspicions about the manager for many years and even before our client was placed in his care. The defendant’s final offer of £50,000 was accepted just before trial, and we also negotiated an unreserved apology from the council to our client.
Settlement for patient abused in a psychiatric hospital
Bolt Burdon Kemp recently secured a settlement on behalf of our client who was sexually abused by a nurse at a psychiatric hospital.
Our client was an inpatient at the Woodlands Hospital in 2000. Whilst at the hospital she was sexually assaulted on a number of occasions and was told by her abuser that no one would believe her if she went to the police. It was only some years later that our client was able to come to terms with what had happened. She then showed great courage in coming forward to the police to make a complaint, as a result of which the nurse was convicted of numerous sexual offences.
Our client then instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp to pursue a compensation claim on her behalf. The hospital admitted that they were responsible for the abuse, as it had been committed by one of their nurses, and we recovered in excess of £200,000 for our client.
Six figure settlement for victim of paedophile teacher
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully recovered damages amounting to £115,000 for Miss D. During her teenage years, Miss D was groomed and sexually abused by a teacher at her Yorkshire secondary school.
As a result of the abuse, Miss D suffered psychiatric injuries and was only able to come to terms with what had happened to her much later in life, when in her fifties. Bolt Burdon Kemp’s reputation as leading child abuse lawyers prompted Miss D to ask us to act on her behalf.
It was admitted that Miss D had been abused, however from the outset, the Defendant’s solicitors put forward the technical argument that Miss D’s claim would fail as it was time barred and they also denied that the abuse she suffered had caused her psychiatric injuries. However, recognising the strength of Miss D’s case, we managed to negotiate a settlement at a meeting with the school’s legal team, and thereafter with the teacher himself.
Successful claim against the Salvation Army
In 1972, aged 10 years old, our client joined the Salvation Army Corp Cadets which was run by a man called Colin Tones. When our client was aged 13 years old, he was sexually assaulted by Tones and he never returned to the Corp Cadets nor did he disclose to anyone what had happened to him.
In 2003 our client was contacted by the police investigating allegations of sexual abuse against Tones following the disclosure of abuse by another of his victims. In 2004 Tones was convicted of offences against our client and one other man, who was also a young boy at the time. At the trial it was revealed that Tones had a previous conviction for sexual abuse of which the Salvation Army had been aware.
Our client then instructed Bolt Burdon Kemp to pursue a compensation claim on his behalf. We successfully pursued the claim by arguing that the Salvation Army was responsible for the abuse as it had been committed by Tones, one of their employees. We secured an excellent award of compensation with which the client was delighted.
Swindon Council liable for abuse by lifeguard
Bolt Burdon Kemp successfully represented ABC in his claim for compensation against Swindon Borough Council, formerly Thamesdown Borough Council, in relation to childhood sexual abuse.
The abuse took place between 1992 and 1996, when ABC was 11-15 years old. He suffered serious sexual abuse at the hands of John Devine on an almost daily basis. Devine was employed by the council as a lifeguard at Milton Road Swimming Baths in Swindon. He later moved to County Ground Leisure Centre also in Swindon where he continued to abuse ABC.
ABC contacted police in 2009 at the age of 27 having been advised that Devine had recently been convicted in relation to sexual offences against other children. The police advised ABC that they had in fact been attempting to locate him for some time. Devine, already imprisoned, was then prosecuted in relation to offences against ABC and two other boys. At first Devine denied all charges and pleaded not guilty meaning that ABC would be forced to give evidence at trial. In June 2011 shortly before the trial was due to begin however Devine changed his plea to guilty and admitted the offences. He was sentenced to a further 8 years imprisonment.
As Devine himself unfortunately had no assets with which to pay ABC any compensation, the claim was successfully brought against the Council on the basis that it was vicariously liable for the acts of abuse committed by Devine as its employee.
The London Borough of Greenwich formally admitted liability for their neglect of a client who was sexually and physically abused by one of their employees. They paid out £65,000 in damages plus costs a month before trial.
St Leonard’s Cottage Homes group litigation
We represented several clients who joined the St Leonard’s Cottage Homes group Litigation against the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, winning £200,000 in compensation.
Lambeth walks (to the bank)
The London Borough of Lambeth had to pay damages of £65,000 to a client who was abused in one of their children’s homes by his swimming instructor.