Gun crime victim fights on for justice

A victim of gun violence who has fought for criminal injuries compensation for more than four years is to get a substantial payout, he said yesterday.

But the man said that the news would not stop legal action against the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board and the Attorney-General for damages over the delay.

The shooting victim, who remains anonymous, explained: “I shouldn’t have had to wait more than four years to be compensated. I didn’t shoot myself. I have rights as a person. I have a right to be heard in a respectable amount of time.”

The man, a former construction worker, was shot in 2014 and made a claim for compensation with the CICB, a government body, in 2015.

The 27-year-old said the attack had left him with a hole in his colon and a chipped spine, and that he had suffered serious back and leg pain, and depression.

His claim was heard by the CICB last month after years on hold. The man said that he had received a letter yesterday that he would be compensated, but declined to put a figure on the payment.

He added that the letter did not say if the money would be paid as a lump sum or in instalments or when the first payment would be made.

But he said that he felt “relieved” by the letter.

He added: “This has been a long time coming.

“It’s going to help me financially being that I’m not able to do the work that I was previously able to do.”

The man said the award would also allow him to move back to the United Kingdom and be with his two-year-old son.

He said that the legal action would continue despite the success of his claim.

The man added: “It’s going to go ahead no matter what at this point. They have violated my constitutional rights 100 per cent. So why wouldn’t I?”

The writ claimed a constitutional breach of duty by the CICB and the Attorney-General by “unreasonably delaying the hearing of his application”.

It said: “The applicant is entitled to seek a declaration that he has not been granted a fair hearing within a reasonable time by the CICB and damages and/or equitable compensation for the respondent’s breach of his constitutional right.”

The writ added: “The respondents are parties to these proceedings by reason of their roles, respectively, as the statutory board pursuant to the Criminal Injuries (Compensation) Act 1973 and as chief legal adviser to the Government, and the department of Government responsible for the CICB.”

The writ said that the man wanted a declaration that his rights had been breached and aggravated, exemplary and punitive damages, “equitable compensation”, and costs.

Kathy Lynn Simmons, the Attorney-General, referred questions about the man’s case to Puisne Judge Nicole Stoneham, the chairwoman of the CICB, who did not respond.

Ms Simmons also failed to respond to a request for comment on the Supreme Court action for damages.

Gitanjali Gutierrez, the Information Commissioner, said this month that the CICB had failed to fulfil a “basic obligation” to respond properly to a public access to information request submitted by The Royal Gazette in May. The request asked for records showing its backlog of cases and minutes of meetings.

The board shared some information in June, but the newspaper was not satisfied with the disclosure and appealed the decision to Mrs Justice Stoneham.

But she did not respond to the appeal inside the mandated six-week window.

Ms Gutierrez wrote that her decision did not address whether the board had properly denied access to the records, but “addresses the basic obligation upon a public authority to respond to a requester within the statutory time frames”.

She added: “It is a matter of fact that the board did not provide the applicant with an internal review decision within the statutory time frame.”

Ms Gutierrez ordered the board to issue a response by December 12 or face having her decision enforced by the Supreme Court.

A Court of Appeal judgment from November 2018 said that the CICB had a “serious backlog” of compensation claims.

The board is now being investigated for possible maladministration by Victoria Pearman, the Ombudsman.

It is The Royal Gazette’s policy not to allow comments on stories regarding court cases. As we are legally liable for any slanderous or defamatory comments made on our website, this move is for our protection as well as that of our readers.

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