11 years after RSA attack, sole survivor receives $300,000 settlement

Sensible Sentencing Trust – Press Release on behalf of Susan Couch:
Susan Couch has accepted the payment of $300,000 from the Corrections Department to settle her claim for exemplary damages. That works out to be $27,272 for every year since she was attacked 11 years ago by William Bell, who was on parole for aggravated robbery.

Ms Couch’s Barrister Brian Henry stresses that this is not compensation, but as the Chief Executive Officer of Corrections, Ray Smith has said, the department is “doing right by Sue and her family”.

“Compensation is only available in New Zealand via the ACC legislation…Sue is a social welfare beneficiary as ACC legislation does not provide her with adequate support” said Brian Henry.

ACC is not injury based compensation; it is salary based compensation.

Susan will continue the fight for compensation, which now moves to a campaign to change the ACC legislation so that victims, especially women, receive a fair outcome.

ACC was passed into law by the National Party; it has since been tinkered with by both National and Labour governments. It remains an unjust, overburdened administration that has totally failed Susan Couch; obviously the most eligible victim for compensation.

Susan Couch’s claim to be properly compensated continues so long as she is paid by social welfare instead of ACC; how she is being treated is grossly unfair.

In negligence terms, compensation would be between $5 and $10 million; enough to provide Susan with a debt free home and an income adequate to allow her and her family survive comfortably with her disabilities.

This litigation has not and could not achieve this, as the ACC legislation prohibits such a claim. We stress the claim for proper compensation is moving to a new phase.

This payment helps, but it is not compensation.

Had the case not been settled then the appeal for a jury would have been argued today. If the appeal was unsuccessful, Susan would have sought leave to go to the Supreme Court. The trial was set for 8 weeks commencing 8th July 2013.

The events occurred on the 8th December 2001 – 11 years this Saturday.

Media are reminded that the name of the Probation Officer is suppressed by a High Court order, which under the terms of the settlement will be made permanent.

Susan Couch:

“I want to thank all my supporters over the past 11 years, especially Garth Mc Vicar and Sensible Sentencing Trust for the huge support I have received from them over those years”.

“I also especially wish thank Winston Peters for the donation that established the Susan Couch Victims Trust, which helps all victims of violent crime”.

Background – a summary of the history of these proceedings is as follows:

a) 28 July 2005 – Proceedings filed in the High Court.

b) 8 September 2005 – proceedings transferred to Court of Appeal by consent, to be heard with the Attorney General’s application to strike out Hobson v The Attorney General CA74/05.

c) 10 November 2005 – Hearing in Court of Appeal for Attorney General’s strike out application.

d) 17 May 2006 – Court of Appeal Judgment given.

e) 1 September 2006 – Supreme Court Judgment (granting leave to appeal).

f) 17 April 2007 – Hearing in Supreme Court.

g) 13 June 2008 – Supreme Court Judgment Given.

h) 23 March 2009 – Supreme Court Hearing.

i) 24 March 2010 – Supreme Court Judgment given, declining Attorney General’s strike out application.

j) 17 June 2010 – Second Amended Statement of Claim filed.

k) June 2010 Discovery commenced by defendant.

l) 24 February 2012 – Third Amended Statement of Claim filed.

m) 28 March 2012 – High Court Hearing (regarding Judge Alone trial).

n) 28 August 2012 – High Court Judgment (regarding Judge alone trial).

o) 5 September 2012 – High Court Judgment (regarding defendant’s application for further particulars).

p) 24 September 2012 – Fourth Amended Statement of Claim filed.

q) 24 September 2012 – Notice of Appeal filed (on decision of Judge alone trial).

Press Release – Mediaworks
Susan Couch, the sole survivor of an attack at an Auckland Returned and Services Association in which three people were murdered, will receive a settlement of $300,000 from the Corrections Department. Ms Couch was left partially paralysed and with brain damage after an attack 11 years ago by William Bell, who was on parole for aggravated robbery.

The settlement amount was embargoed until 7pm tonight, when Ms Couch talked exclusively with John Campbell, LIVE on TV3. Ms Couch’s lawyer Brian Henry, and Corrections chief Ray Smith also appeared on Campbell Live.

In the Campbell Live interview, Susan Couch said of the outcome and settlement:

“Very mixed emotions, I’m exhausted, I’m over it right now. Its been nearly 11 years of government departments which will still continue even after the settlement.”

“I’m looking at it as the closest to an apology I’ll get. People dont realise when they make an apology they are validating someones suffering and not just ignoring them. It’s not a formal apology, it’s a ‘whoops sorry, our bad’ but I’ll take it.”

Her lawyer, Mr Henry argued before the High Court in May that William Bells probation officer had been inexperienced and her bosses had failed to supervise her.

The full interview will be available from 8pm at www.3News.co.nz/CampbellLive

Content Sourced from scoop.co.nz
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