COUNTY NEWS: Woman abused by schoolteacher is denied compensation
A woman abused by her schoolteacher when she was just eight years old has been denied Government compensation.
Kim Mitchell says this is just another example of how the system has failed her.
She has bravely waived her right to anonymity to tell her story.
Kim, now 36, said: “As a child I was happy, innocent and trusting, just as a little girl should be.
“The events of that evening at Littlemead School impacted every single aspect of my life. I am angry, bitter, resentful and hateful, unable to respect authority in the way I was taught as a child.”
Littlemead School was a boarding school in Oving, Chichester. It closed down in 2006 due to poor numbers.
Kim said she has spent her life being denied justice.
“I feel like I am constantly being kicked while I am already down. It’s just one thing after another.”
When she bravely stood up as a child and told people that PE teacher Norman Hogbin abused her in 1990, Sussex Police and social services did not do enough, she said.
When she reported it to police again in 2012 she said she was ‘fobbed off’ because too much time had passed.
It was only after Kim moved to South Shields and contacted Northumbria Police in 2015 that Hogbin was then brought to justice.
He was sentenced to 15 months in jail in 2017 for one count of indecent assault against Kim. This was raised to three years after Kim appealed, the CPS has confirmed.
She sought Government compensation but was shocked that a technicality means she will get nothing.
Kim was previously given community service after she was convicted of ‘using of threatening language or behaviour in a public place’ in a wages dispute.
She said she regrets the incident and said her anger issues stemmed from the crime she suffered as a child.
Kim did her community service but did not know the conviction would be unspent for another year. For this reason her claim was rejected and she can never reapply.
Kim said this unfairly affects people like her: “I never had a criminal record when I was eight years old.
“John Venables had taxpayers’ money to change his identity, surely we deserve something from the Government saying ‘sorry the system failed you’?”
Venables and Robert Thompson were jailed for the murder of two-year-old James Bulger in 1993 and given new identities upon their release in 2001.
Kim said compensation would pay for counselling without long NHS waiting lists and also help maintain the roof over her head.
South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck brought Kim’s case to a minister but was told he could not intervene in individual cases.
Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “Something happened to her as a child that was outside her control and as an adult she’s being punished.
“She’s been let down right across the board. I think she’s incredibly brave.
“I think there is a hell of a lot of cases out there that haven’t come forward and if we can gather those cases together we might be able to push for some changes.”
She said the fact that the Government is ‘consumed’ with Brexit makes it hard to get other bills onto the Commons floor.
“I know it’s a big issue, it’s a big deal, but people’s lives are going on.”
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “Records of investigations for the period up to and including the 1990s are no longer held, so it is not possible to formally confirm that this allegation was received and investigated at that time.
“However, we did receive a call from the victim in 2012 asking for the case to be investigated. This was carefully looked into but from background enquiries we made at that stage it was concluded that the matter had been adequately investigated in 1990 and that the victim had not provided any new information. She was informed of this.
“In November 2015 we were contacted by Northumbria Police who had received a call from the victim asking for this matter to be investigated and providing new information.
“We then began an investigation which resulted in the conviction and sentencing of Hogbin in 2017.
“We are glad to have helped achieve justice for the victim even after all these years.”
A spokesman for West Sussex County Council said: “We recognise this woman’s bravery in coming forward and sharing her story. It is always incredibly difficult for a victim to come forward, but exceedingly important.
“Although details of historical cases are not always readily available, we would invite her to get in touch with us to talk about what happened so we can make sure we give the best response possible to people who come forward in the future.”
A Ministry of Justice spokesman said: “We deeply sympathise with all victims of crime and paid out over £140million last year alone to victims through this scheme.
“Strict criteria is in place on those eligible – payment will be refused or reduced if an applicant has an unspent conviction, depending on the seriousness of that conviction.
“This is to protect taxpayer money where an applicant may have caused distress, loss or injury to another person, or cost taxpayers through police investigations or court proceedings.”
Kim is involved with the Truth Project, which allows abuse survivors to tell their story in a supportive setting.