Niece Abused by Uncle Recovers Compensation

In the 1980’s a teenager frequently went to visit her uncle, in the west country. To begin with these visits were quite ordinary and enjoyable, until such time as the uncle started to behave inappropriately towards his niece. The nature of the assaults escalated over time, so that whenever she visited her uncle, she would be abused in his home, unable to talk to her aunt or parents. This abuse continued over a period of time, until she found the fortitude to stop visiting. She then did not see her uncle for a number of years, but when she did, and he tried to assault her again, she was wise and strong enough to put the uncle in his place.

However, it was only many years later that she felt able to talk to others about what happened and summoned up the courage to talk to the police. The police interview prompted an investigation, which ultimately led to the police deciding to interview the uncle.  Unfortunately, just before the police were due to interview the uncle, he died, of natural causes. As a result the police investigation came to an end and the police closed their file.

At this point IBB was instructed to pursue a claim for compensation. However, with the abuser dead, this was a difficult case. The uncle had outlived his wife and having no children, the estate would swiftly be disposed of.  We therefore undertook inquiries to obtain the uncle’s last will and testament, as well keeping an eye on his home, to respond to any potential sale. The executors to the uncle’s estate were identified and approached, with a demand that they take no action to distribute the estate and guarantee that no steps will be taken that may deprive our client of her right to compensation following the abuse she suffered many years ago.

In the meantime, evidence was obtained that would support the claim, including evidence from the police. We were able to obtain evidence from the client’s partner about the uncle, which similarly assisted. In order to fully understand the impact of the assaults, on our client’s mental health, her family and her working life, a report from a consultant psychiatrist was obtained. This detailed examination of our client provided a diagnosis, recommendations for treatment and prognosis.

With the combined evidence the claim was detailed and put to the executors of the estate, of the paedophile.  They were allowed time to investigate, so far as they were able. When they responded to the allegations of abuse, they were not prepared to accept responsibility, arguing there was no corroboration and that the claim was time-barred. However, our client, on our advice, was not prepared to accept a denial of responsibility and fought on. We continued to engage with the solicitors acting on behalf of the estate, ultimately persuading them that our client had a good case and that she was prepared to commence legal action to ensure she obtained justice. The Estate of the paedophile eventually indicated an interest in entering into discussions, which ultimately resulted in a financial settlement being achieved for our client, without having to start legal proceedings.

This was a very satisfactory outcome for our client.

The case highlights the importance of seeking legal advice as soon as practically possible, as delay can result in you losing any entitlement to compensation, even when you have a good case. There are general time limits to bring claims for child abuse compensation and these are frequently used by the other side in an attempt to defeat legitimate claims. Therefore, it is essential to seek legal advice at the earliest possible date and not wait for any police investigation or criminal prosecution to run its course, whatever the police or Crown Prosecution Service may so.

Furthermore, in this case, it was possible to stop the distribution of the paedophile’s estate, following his death. If the estate had already been distributed by the time a claim was made, then the claim for compensation may have been too late, as the deceased’s assets were no longer available to be pursued as compensation. Our client may have been a matter of weeks away from losing her compensation.

This case also illustrates that even when the abuser has died it may still be possible to bring a claim for child abuse compensation. However, to emphasise a final time, do not delay, as such delay may snuff out any claims.

If you would like further information on how to obtain compensation for child sexual abuse - current or historic, contact our abuse compensation experts today. To discuss your situation in a safe, sensitive way and find out more about your options, please call 0333 323 1634 or contact Malcolm Underhill directly by emailin gmalcolm.underhill@ibbclaims.co.uk.