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UK Law Lords allow lawsuit against lottery-winning rapist after limitations period

[JURIST] The judicial panel of the UK House of Lords unanimously ruled [opinion, PDF] Wednesday that a sexual assault victim could sue a convicted attacker who later won £7 million in the National Lottery even though the six-year limitation for bringing compensation claims had expired. The Lords held that the victim could bring the claim against Iorworth Hoare [Wikipedia profile]. Writing in favor of the appeal, Baroness Hale od Richmond wrote:

the injustice to a claimant who may be deprived of his claim, perhaps as a result of the very injuries which gave rise to it, can be balanced against the injustice to a defendant who may be called upon to defend himself a long time after the event when important evidence may no longer be obtainable ... A fair trial can be possible long after the event and sometimes the law has no choice. It is even possible to have a fair trial of criminal charges of historic sex abuse. Much will depend upon the circumstances of the particular case ... Nor are the difficulties faced by a defendant, whose breach of a strict statutory duty may have resulted in some insidious industrial disease, necessarily less deserving of consideration than the difficulties faced by a defendant, whose deliberate and brutal actions towards a vulnerable person in his care may have resulted in immediate physical harm and much later serious psychiatric sequelae.
The Law Lords also allowed four additional appeals on the same issue, some of which involved children.

Known as the Lotto rapist, Hoare had been convicted of several sexual assaults, including rape, during the 1970s and 1980s before being convicted of the attempted rape at issue in the present case. Hoare was released from prison [BBC News report] under strict conditions after winning a share of a £21 million lottery prize. In 2005, a High Court judge rejected a compensation claim by Hoare's victim, finding that it had been brought after the six-year statute of limitations had expired; an Appeal Court affirmed that decision. After Wednesday's decision by the Law Lords, that compensation case against Hoare, as well as the four other appeals, will now go to the High Court for possible hearing on the issue of actual abuse compensation. BBC News has more.

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