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It is normal for victims of crime to think that the conviction and punishment of the criminal marks the end of the process entirely. However, that is not always the case as, when appropriate, compensation can be sought from the criminal.
A good example is a recent High Court case in which a woman in her 50s who had been the victim of sexual abuse for many years when she was a child achieved a settlement of more than half a million pounds in damages after taking professional legal advice.
The woman had suffered years of substantial physical, mental and sexual abuse on an almost daily basis at the hands of her stepfather, beginning when she was aged three or four.
She only went to the police decades later and her stepfather was convicted and sentenced to a lengthy term of imprisonment. She experienced substantial psychological problems as a result of the abuse and suffered from low self-esteem, depression, constant nightmares and eating disorders.
She claimed damages against her stepfather and the Court accepted that the abuse had affected all aspects of her life, including her education and career.
Although her stepfather is now in his 70s, she was awarded £90,000 for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity she had endured and £10,000 in aggravated damages. With other substantial sums to reflect her past and future loss of earnings and the cost of counselling, her total award came to about £590,000. The stepfather was also ordered to pay the £113,842 legal costs of the case. The Court expressed the hope that psychiatric treatment would enable the woman to live a happier life than she had done hitherto.