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Judge awards costs to elder abuse victim’s daughter

A judge has awarded costs to the adopted daughter of alleged elder abuse victim “Auntie Em” after her six-year legal battle with her mother's former carer.

Chief Justice Ian Kawaley ruled yesterday that Rosamund Hayward should not have to pay her own legal bill after she successfully appealed against a magistrate's order that she pay $25,000 to nursing assistant Yvonne Dawson.

In his appeal judgement, Mr Justice Kawaley said Ms Hayward's “apparent unwillingness to live up to her moral obligations” in relation to contributing to the cost of care for her mother Wilhelmina Liburd was “on the face of it, not just unreasonable, but bordering on the outrageous, considering that she is seemingly entitled to inherit her mother's home”.

He said it was difficult to see why Ms Hayward shouldn't pay for her own costs in the long-running civil case.

But the judge changed his mind after hearing submissions from her lawyer Ray DeSilva in Supreme Court yesterday. Mr DeSilva revealed that Ms Hayward offered to settle the legal row for $10,000 in February 2009, but the offer was rejected by Ms Dawson, who would not budge from a figure of $20,000.

Mr DeSilva said his client could not afford the $10,000 but was willing to take out a bank loan to settle the matter and move on.

Mr Justice Kawaley said: “That offer was rejected and the result of the appeal has been that [Ms Hayward] has been found not to be liable to pay [Ms Dawson] anything. In these circumstances, it's not properly open to this court to hold that [Ms Hayward] acted unreasonably in the way proceedings were conducted.”

Mrs Liburd was cared for by Ms Dawson in the latter's home in late 2006 and early 2007, after the Upland Street, Devonshire, property she lived in with her daughter was found to be unfit for human habitation.

Ms Dawson launched legal proceedings in 2007 against Ms Hayward, the only child of Mrs Liburd and her late husband, to recover money she claimed she was owed for caring for the senior at weekends. Ms Dawson said Mrs Liburd's nephew Stephen Woodley paid for weekday care.

Magistrate Tyrone Chin provisionally ruled in May 2008 that there was a legal contract between the parties and, in December 2010, reaffirmed that decision, ordering Ms Hayward to pay $25,000, plus $70 costs.

But Mr Justice Kawaley found that no such legal obligation existed and set aside Mr Chin's decision.

The full cost of the case — funded in part by taxpayers via Legal Aid — was not given in court yesterday. Neither Mr DeSilva nor Ms Dawson's lawyer Richard Horseman had any comment after the ruling.

Rosamund Hayward

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Published October 17, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 17, 2013 at 12:43 am)

Judge awards costs to elder abuse victim’s daughter

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