Advising with empathy and experience

Compensation award for abuse victim after 40 years.

A middle-aged man, whose life and relationships with women have been blighted after he was persistently sexually assaulted as a child by an older neighour, has been helped to win a compensation case 40 years later

The man, who is now aged over 50 and lives in a rural part of northern England, was abused during the 1970s when he was a primary school pupil, by the neighbour, who was about 20 years older.

His abuser first made a sexual advance towards him while the victim was playing close to his home. The victim was upset and confused but the man, who was in his 20s, told him not to say anything to his mother because “she already knew about it and it was all okay.”

After this, the neighbour visited and sought out the boy submitting him to occasional abuse close to the family’s home.

The man then offered to take the victim and his two siblings to a well-known local recreation area in a nearby city at the weekend. The boy’s mother was grateful but the abuser managed to get the boy on his own and abused him regularly during the next three years.

Eventually the boy reacted aggressively and swore at the man when he tried to touch him but his abuser told him that, if he told anyone, he would kill him.

By this time the boy realized that he could avoid being abused by refusing to go out with the man and instead he volunteered to help in his parents’ business.

Although the abuse then stopped because the boy had put himself out of harm’s way, he was severely traumatized, unable to concentrate or work at school, and left without any formal qualifications.

He found that all he could think about was the abuse he had suffered and, in order to block it out and cope with everyday life, he had to keep himself busy the whole time because, if he did not, it dominated his thoughts.

Eventually, he left home in his teens and started his own business. Through constant hard work – initially to block out painful memories of the abuse – he has become a successful and wealthy businessman but the abuse he suffered as a child has affected his personal life.

He has struggled to form proper adult relationships with women, finds it difficult to discuss his recollections and becomes distressed when he recounts his experiences.

After years of maintaining a silence, the Claimant felt that he could and should report events to the police.

In spite of the length of time that had passed, the police were helpful, interviewed the man in a great detail, and prosecuted the abuser who was convicted, in spite of denying the charges, which meant that the victim had to relive the trauma of his ordeal in open court. The abuser is now serving a significant jail sentence.

While the man had hoped that the successful prosecution would help him to draw a line under the past, it failed to do so and he approached the CNCI team to see if he could pursue a compensation claim after his abuser’s conviction.

The CNCI team contacted the abuser in prison, researched his finances as an owner of land and property and sent a letter of claim against him, which was unanswered. Eventually solicitors in the Clinical Negligence and Catastrophic Injury team, started court proceedings and the abuser opted to seek legal representation.

Negotiations commenced and eventually a solicitors settlement of in excess of £70,000 was agreed. The Claimant intends to give a substantial part of the award to charities that provide support to abused children who have suffered as he did as a child, when little, or no, support or understanding was available.

Speaking of the claim, a CNCI team member said, "The tragic reality of childhood abuse is that it blights lives. The award in this case cannot erase the memories of abuse. We hope, however, that it can assist the Claimant in moving forward. It is a tribute to our client that his motivation in pursuing this matter is to ensure that other children are heard, protected and supported".