Man Determined To Look To The Future Despite Challenges
A Leeds man sexually abused by a mental health nurse has spoken of how he is getting his “life back on track” after lawyers successfully secured him a settlement.
David Graham was at home in Crossgates when he was visited by nurse Luke Smith in January 2017. David had been suffering from mental health issues, which had worsened after his sister died. At the end of their meeting, Smith left David’s home but returned a minute later claiming he had left his pen behind. He then carried out a sexual act on David.
Following the incident, David instructed legal experts at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his care under the Leeds and York Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust, responsible for employing Smith. The Trust admitted liability in terms of injury and loss as a consequence of the sexual assault, and David’s team of lawyers have now secured settlement for him, which will help him access the specialist treatment and support he requires to overcome his ordeal.
More than three years on, David, who waived his anonymity to help others, is now speaking out on how Covid-19 restrictions have left him struggling with a “deeper feeling of isolation” but he is determined to “remain hopeful.” He is also urging men in similar situations to come forward through his online and telephone support group, Voice Out Leeds.
Expert Opinion“This is a truly shocking case which demonstrates the significant impact that abuse can have.
David continues to struggle to come to terms with what happened to him. He put his trust in someone that was meant to be helping him. Instead, the nurse abused that trust and his position by taking advantage of David at a time when he was at his most vulnerable and just days after saying his final farewells to his sister.
David has endured a horrific ordeal, and while nothing can change that, he has shown such determination and bravery and we are pleased to have secured settlement to help him overcome it.
In recent months, David has gone on to describe lockdown as a struggle for him but he is grateful to see an end to the case.
It’s vital that survivors of abuse don’t feel alone and by sharing David’s story we are hopeful they will gain the strength to speak out on their experiences.”
Tom Fletcher - Associate Solicitor
David had a history of mental health issues, which got worse following the death of his sister to illness in December 2016. He went to see his GP who referred him to the community mental health team run by the Leeds and York Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust.
His first meeting with Smith “went rather well”, but it was during the follow-up appointment in January 2017 that the nurse abused David.
At a trial at Leeds Crown Court in February 2018, Smith pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a person with a mental health disorder. He was jailed for eight months.
With settlement reached, David is grateful for an end to the case but is still being faced with added challenges as lockdown continues.
He said: “Having suffered from depression and agoraphobia at varying degrees for several years, it was made substantially worse when I lost my sister. I asked for help which then led to me being sexually abused. At the time, I felt dirty, disgusted and embarrassed.
“It will take me a long time to come to terms with what happened, and lockdown has only added to the feeling of isolation and, at times, hopelessness.
“But I’m determined to get my life back on track and remain hopeful for the future. While lockdown meant I was unable to get out and about as much, I’ve tried to stay positive and teach myself new skills such as cooking and growing my own food, which is quite rewarding. I also did a pre-lockdown counselling course in the hope of helping others.
“It’s a huge weight off my shoulders to finally have an end to my case, and I hope that my story will help others who may be suffering in silence to come forward and get justice. It’s the least they deserve.”
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