A retired teacher has cleared the final legal hurdle standing in the way of her bid to claim compensation from a serial rapist who won £7m on the national lottery.
The 78-year-old woman was told by a High Court judge today that she can go ahead with her damages claim against Iorworth Hoare for the psychological injuries she says she suffered after he attacked her in Roundhay Park, Leeds, in 1988.
Hoare, 59, was convicted of attempted rape and jailed for life - he had six previous convictions for rape, attempted rape and indecent assault - and spent 16 years in prison.
He bought a winning Lotto Extra ticket while on day release from prison in August 2004.
Five months ago, the woman, Mrs A, won a vital ruling from the Law Lords that, in cases of serious assault, courts had a discretion to extend the usual time limit within which compensation claims must be brought.
Her claim was sent back to the High Court for a decision on whether, in the particular circumstances of her case, she should be allowed to sue 20 years after the event.
Mr Justice Coulson said today there were some factor's in Hoare's favour - the length of the delay in suing, the difficulties he might face regarding production of defence evidence in the light of that delay and the fact that Mrs A had already received £5,000 from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
But the factors in Mrs A's favour carried far greater weight.
It was a serious assault. As a direct result of that assault, Hoare was given a life jail sentence which rendered him incapable of earning a living and therefore not worth suing at the time.
His lack of funds prior to his lottery win, meaning he was not worth pursuing for damages, was the main reason for the delay in bringing the action.
That delay was reasonable on the particular facts of the case, the judge said.
He rejected suggestions that his ruling could open the floodgates to people trying to get round the legal time limits by relying on a defendant's impecuniousity.
Mrs A's case was "wholly exceptional", he said. Such circumstances would rarely arise.
"It will be even rarer for such a defendant, years later, to buy a lottery ticket which wins him £7m or otherwise comes into an unexpected fortune which makes him suddenly worth pursuing after all," the judge said.
He ordered an urgent trial of Mrs A's damages action if no settlement is reached.
Mrs A says she still suffers from nightmares and that the brutality of the assault destroyed her self-esteem and wrecked her relationships.
Hoare, released from prison in 2005, is reported to live in a £700,000 house near Newcastle.Reuse content