Child abuse solicitors at Irwin Mitchell secured a significant settlement and an apology for a man who was abused by his mother and stepfather as a youngster.
Our client, Blake, was born in 1987. He lived with his stepfather and mother who were known heroin addicts. He was abused by both, with the more extreme physical abuse being perpetrated by the stepfather. He was also the victim of sexual abuse.
Social services first became involved with the family in 1996 when they were told that Blake was frequently absent from school. In fact, he didn’t attend school for over two years. A child protection visit to his home revealed that he was left alone during the day and night, being locked in the house. He was badly nourished with no food or furniture in the house, nor electric lights. Blake still wasn’t taken into care until he was 12, when he presented himself to a police station asking if he could be taken into care.
Irwin Mitchell took over this case from another firm at the request of the Official Solicitor. When Blake reached 18, we carried on acting for him personally. We argued that Blake had suffered physical and emotional abuse and neglect between 1996 and 2000. When Blake was assessed by a psychiatrist for the claim, he disclosed sexual abuse that he hadn’t been able to speak about previously.
We issued proceedings in the High Court, and the solicitors for the local authority made a partial admission of liability, conceding that there was a two year delay in protecting Blake. The first offer made in the case was £25,000, which was then countered by an offer on behalf of Blake for £80,000.
Blake had previously pursued a complaint against the local authority to the Local Government Ombudsman. The Ombudsman awarded him £20,000 in respect of the authority’s failings. It wasn’t clear in law whether it was necessary for Blake to give credit for this award when settling his case. This was compromised.
A settlement meeting resulted in a successful award to Blake of £70,000. The local authority also agreed to an apology meeting between a senior official of the council and Blake, so that he was able to be sure that the lessons of his case had been taken on board. The meeting with the senior official from the council also resulted in Blake being put forward for further education and training, and gaining some assistance with his accommodation difficulties.
'A huge restorative effect'
Child abuse solicitor Tracey Storey represented Blake. She said: “Bringing this case against the local authority had a huge restorative effect on Blake. He was able to hold those who had failed him to account. He was even able to begin talking about the sexual abuse he had suffered – which he hadn’t been able to disclose previously. The award enabled him to move forward with his life and look to the future.”
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