Owning boat bars murder victim's wife from payout

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The Independent Online
A mother of two young children whose husband was kicked to death in the street by a stranger has been told she can have no criminal injuries compensation because she kept his fishing boat.

Debby Jones, whose 36-year-old husband, Philip, would have received around pounds 5,000 if his attacker had only broken his leg, has been told she can have only pounds 1,100 funeral expenses and no compensation for herself or her sons, both aged under 10.

Because she decided to try and run her husband's fishing boat after his death, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board has ruled that she has not suffered any hardship and cannot therefore have any money.

Lawyers attacked the decision and are appealing for compensation for Mrs Jones and her sons, who live in Milford Haven in west Wales.

The appeal is the latest of a number of challenges to controversial decisions by the CICB. Last year the three-year-old son of a murdered woman was twice turned down for criminal compensation over her death because of her background as a prostitute.

And a number of victims of child abuse at children's homes also challenged CICB rulings that the compensation they were entitled to would be reduced because they had subsequently acquired criminal convictions. They claimed the abuse itself had turned them into criminals.

Debby Jones, whose husband's attacker was jailed for life for murder, said: "He had gone to Milford Haven to refuel the boat and take the crew out for a Christmas drink. They were coming out of the pub at 5.30 in the evening when the totally unprovoked attack occurred.

"He was murdered by a man he did not know and who he had never met before. It was a very brutal attack. He was kicked in the head by this man who was wearing heavy boots. The pathologist said that the injuries he received looked like those that you get in a serious road crash.

"I have two sons, aged seven and 10, and I applied to the CICB for help for myself and my children. They have now told us we can have nothing, only the money to pay for the funeral. I think that is a terrible decision."

Her lawyer, Matthew Raggett, said: "We are appealing and it is my personal view that this kind of decision is a nonsense, crazy. My client has kept the boat on, but of course the crew now take a bigger share and, of course, she has suffered hardship because of the death of her husband. If he had died in a road traffic accidents we would be talking about a considerable amount."

In a letter to Mrs Jones, the CICB says: "There is no loss of dependency, in view of the continuation of the business. The receipt of benefits also extinguishes a bereavement award."

A CICB spokesman said a number of factors were taken into account when claims were dealt with.

The case is not the first controversial decision. Naryle Shields, the son of Dawn Shields who was strangled and dumped on remote moorland near Sheffield, twice had an application for compensation rejected because Dawn was a prostitute.