The decisions can be found at the bottom of this article.
The Judge at Leeds, HHJ Gosnell, heard the cases of 5 men who were claiming compensation for sexual abuse whilst at the St William’s school, East Yorkshire. The men gave evidence that they were sexually abused by James Carragher, Anthony McAllen and others whilst at the school between the ages of 13 and 15.
The former headmaster, James Carragher, and the former priest, Anthony McCallen, were convicted of sex offences against boys at the School in November 2015. Carragher was convicted previously in 1993 and 2004 of sexual offences against boys at the school.
The St William’s school was operated by two Roman Catholic organisations, the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle Institute (Great Britain province).
Despite the convictions of Carragher and McAllen the civil cases were challenged on the basis that the men’s cases were brought out of time. The Limitation Act 1980 section 33 allows a judge to decide whether he thinks a case should be allowed to proceed despite more than 3 years having passed since the abuse occurred.
David Greenwood of Switalskis Solicitors represents 109 men who were sexually assaulted at St William’s. He started the civil compensation case in 2004.
Commenting on the case David Greenwood says :
“I welcome the finding in favour of claimant CD which demonstrates the way in which Carragher preyed on young boys by violently raping them at St Williams.
However despite the obvious suffering caused to the Claimants by the abuse in the first place, all the men were subjected to further humiliation and the examination of tiny details of their allegations by the defence barristers to a greater extent than that faced even in criminal trials.
It is understandable that Claimants recalling painful memories from many years ago will get details wrong and the judge has penalised three of the claimants by allowing these inconsistencies to affect his judgement of the strength of the evidence of the abuse and also on whether the cases should go ahead after the passage of time.
In my opinion these claimants have been treated harshly by the civil justice system which needs reform in the area of child abuse cases. The restrictions placed on the law of limitation has been cynically exploited by the Defendant’s insurance company. The system has let down these deserving claimants. A more appropriate system would be a redress scheme similar to the Irish Catholic schools scheme.
The claimants who were unsuccessful will consider appeal and the remaining 244 claimants will continue their pursuit of justice.
I am hopeful that these cases mark a turning point in the case and that the Diocese of Middlesbrough and the De La Salle organisation will now attempt to reach an out of court settlement with the Claimants.