A boy aged eight who was chased under the wheels of a car by a gang of youths that he had reported for shoplifting has won a record £4.75m compensation award.
Omar Dadi was almost paralysed and left needing to use a ventilator when six youths subjected him to a vicious attack after overhearing him telling a security guard they had been stealing from a south London supermarket.
In his struggle to get away from their kicking and punching, he ran into the road and was hit by a car. The award paid by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) is twice the previous record of £2.3m.
Yesterday, Mr Dadi, now 18, said he was appalled that he had to wait 10 years for his compensation. But he added: "This will make a huge difference to my life and I can now start living again. Now I can make plans to move out to a home of my own in the community with my own care staff and just start living."
Of his life since the incident he said: "It has been a struggle. I have been living in hospitals or other residential institutions ever since I was eight."
Howard Webber, the chief executive of CICA, said victims of violent crime under the old scheme – before the rules changed in 1996 – received the same levels of compensation they might have won in the civil courts but, under the new scheme, said Mr Webber, payments were capped at £500,000.
Mr Dadi's solicitor, Paul Paxton, said his client's case highlighted the plight of current crime victims.
"If he had been injured now, his compensation would have been so low that he would have had to stay in an institution for the rest of his life," he said.