Our abuse lawyers assess the impact of four claimants winning record abuse compensation following their successful claim against a council.

ABB & Others v Central Milton Keynes Council

Three brothers and a sister have been awarded record levels of abuse compensation for ‘pain and suffering’ following their victory against Central Milton Keynes Council in a landmark `failure to remove’ case.

The four siblings had suffered varying degrees of horrific sexual abuse at the hands of their father throughout their childhood, between 1990 and 2005. The victims all gave statements to the police and the father was eventually prosecuted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He pleaded guilty to 40 offences involving sexual abuse against his four children.

The Central Milton Keynes Council was first made aware of the abuse of the first two children in April 1992. The father was known to have a long standing drink and drugs problem and first admitted sexual abuse of the two elder children at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. This disclosure led to the involvement of both the police and social services. The father moved out of the family home and the first three children were placed on the child protection register. However, the father was allowed to return home in October 1992, despite there being inadequate safeguards in place to protect the children. The child abuse continued. The fourth child was born in September 1994 and also suffered sexual abuse.

The main legal issue in the case was whether the Council had failed in its duties under section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to protect the children. The legislation requires the local authority to take action if it suspects that a child in their locality may suffer significant harm. Whilst the council’s lawyers challenged the abuse compensation claim, the weight of evidence of the family and their expert witness was against them and the judge decided in the claimant’s favour.

The children, who are now all adults, won record abuse compensation which was at the severest end of the scale. Both eldest children were awarded £70,000 each for their pain and suffering, which includes their physical and psychological injuries. This is thought to be the highest award seen in our court system yet for this type of abuse claim. The ruling is good news for other abuse victims who often suffer terrible psychological issues at the hands of their abusers.

One of the victims developed drug and alcohol addiction, which medical opinion believed, was caused, on the balance of probabilities, by the child abuse. Although the claimant was unable to prove their actual expenditure on alcohol, the judge gave an indication that in principle an award could be made for the associated cost. This case paves the way for other claimants to claim for the cost of alcohol dependency which has been caused by injury or abuse.

This is a tragic case in which the father should have been brought to justice soon after the first warning signs. The Claimants have at least now been rewarded financially, but no amount of money can ever bring give them back their childhoods.

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