Thirteen victims of abuse in North Wales children's homes were awarded damages ranging from £5,000 to £47,000 by a High Court judge yesterday.
The awards, totalling more than £300,000, were made to former residents of five children's homes run by Bryn Allen Community, a private company that went into voluntary liquidation in 1997. Mr Justice Connell said the money was to compensate the claimants for the physical and sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of staff between 1973 and 1991.
The company played no part in the proceedings and its insurers, the Royal and Sun Alliance, which was named as the second defendant, contested each claim.
An exemption clause in the insurance contract means that the insurers may now refuse to indemnify Bryn Allen, which could leave the victims facing another legal battle to secure their damages.
In yesterday's ruling, Judge Connell found that Bryn Allen homes had been negligent in the care of 13 out of 14 claimants. The judge said all 13 were "very needy children" who had been through a "traumatic series of damaging experiences" before they were taken into care. They were then "let down badly and their trust was betrayed" by the cruelty of the staff, he said.
The former managing director of the company, John Allen, was convicted in 1995 of six offences of indecent assault on residents and jailed for six years.
Judge Connell said: "Even if the care offered to them there had been all that it should have been, it is doubtful that any of them would have escaped significant difficulties in coping on a day-to-day basis with adult life."