Judgement Paves Way For Abuse Survivors To Access Justice

Judge Rules Damages Should Be Awarded In Abuse Cases Where No Physical Contact Involved

06.01.2016

A High Court judge has ruled that those who have been subjected to abuse through text messages or been the subject of indecent images should be awarded damages.

The judge, Sir Robert Nelson, ruled that former deputy headmaster, William Whillock, who abused a teenager and persuaded her to send naked photos of herself to him should pay damages to the girl.

The court heard that the consequences for the teenager were devastating, affecting her ability to form relationships and her chances of a successful career.

Specialist abuse lawyers at Irwin Mitchell, who represent a number of people who have as adults been informed that a teacher had taken indecent images of them when they visited his home as teenagers, have backed the ruling.

A number of women were told that their former teacher, Russell Singleton, who was jailed in 2013 for three years and two months after admitting 21 sex offences, had taken indecent video recordings and images of them in the bathroom of his home where they had rehearsals for their annual school performance while he worked at Alfreton Grange Arts College, previously Mortimer Wilson Secondary School.

Singleton, from Heanor, Derbyshire, admitted 21 sex offences including sexual activity with a teenager while in a position of trust after police seized 24 video tapes and found more than 300 images on his phone.

Raman Dhillon, an expert abuse lawyer at Irwin Mitchell, now acting for four of these women said:

Expert Opinion
“This ruling is a step forward for those who have suffered abuse through text messages and indecent images. In our case the indecent images were taken without the knowledge of those involved and once they were contacted by the police and informed of what had happened to them as teenagers they suffered psychological harm.

“The impact of the abuse has left those we act for feeling violated, disgusted and sickened by the actions of this man who they trusted as their school teacher.

“The main priority in these cases should always be the survivors of this abuse of trust and it is vital all those affected are provided with access to the help and support they may need to deal with the offences that have been committed against them, as many survivors suffer long-term psychological problems as a result of their experience.

“This ruling will hopefully enable those who experience non-physical types of abuse to access justice and ensure those responsible are held to account for their actions.”
Raman Dhillon, Solicitor

Among the victims that Irwin Mitchell represents is a young mother now aged 27, who wishes to remain anonymous.  She said: “I feel as though the cherished memories of my teenage years have been stolen from me as a result of what happened.

“I hope that more people who have been through similar experience to me feel able to come forward and speak out and that there is more awareness of the support that is available to other survivors."