Meagre award for Damilola's parents

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The Independent Online

The parents of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor are to get just £11,000 in compensation, a total condemned as "derisory" by victim support groups.

Mr and Mrs Taylor will each receive £5,500 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for the trauma they have suffered as a result of their son's death – substantially below state payouts for victims of sexual harassment or race discrimination who take their cases to employment tribunals.

The Victims of Crime Trust, which campaigns for the rights of crime victims and their families, said the amount did little to compensate for the long-term impact of Damilola's murder.

"The whole system is flawed. This payment is derisory when you consider that the amount is expected to cover the 'ripple' effect on the whole family," said Clive Elliott, a spokesman for the charity.

Crime victims used to receive compensation according to their individual circumstances but this was replaced with a flat tariff system about five years ago, set according to the severity of the crime. The current level of payments was revised last year and recipients are allowed to appeal over their awards.

Denise Fergus and Ralph Bulger, the parents of James Bulger, were awarded a total of £7,500 by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board for the loss of their son.

This compares with the £320,000 of taxpayers' money paid in compensation to Colin Jones, a former NHS chief executive. He was awarded the payout after losing his job.

Campaigners have lobbied for the Government to reinstate the system whereby victims received individual payouts.

Five years ago Merlyn Nuttall received more than £76,000 after she was brutally attacked and set on fire by Anthony Ferrira, a crack addict. Her payout was awarded before the system was changed.

In an newspaper interview earlier this year, Ms Nuttall said the payments scheme should be reviewed.

"The tariff system fails to deal with individual circumstance," she said. "It fails to take into account loss of earnings, and it's very impersonal. It victimises the victim all over again."

The cost of trauma therapy for crime victims and their relatives can be as high as £90 an hour. This fee is not covered by the state unless patients wait more than a year on an NHS waiting list.

The Victims of Crime Trust believes that victims should receive separate vouchers to pay for therapy so they can use their award to take a holiday.

"The amount [from the CICB] does not take into account the feeling of being let down by the criminal justice system," said Mr Elliott.

"The ripple effect of crime is huge. Children often drop out of school, couples split up. The family deserves to spend the money on a holiday to remind them they are human."

The CICB said it was unable to comment on specific payments, but confirmed that the average compensation for parents who have lost a relative through murder or manslaughter was £11,000.

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