Generally speaking, the courts are swift to afford parents with the responsibility of administering a settlement of damages on behalf of their child. Indeed, there is careful provision in our legal system to afford such unfortunate parents with mechanisms to do this, albeit with supervision. The system obviously is not flawless.
Surely mostly the money is spent wisely and on behalf of the child. However of course often it may not. A very sad sounding ongoing criminal case concerns the prosecution of the parents (one by adoption) of a girl with cerebral palsy caused by the medical negligence of a Health Authority, admitted after legal proceedings were commenced. She was awarded £2.6 million in December 1999. Of that, £270,000 was given to the girl’s mother as payment for expenses incurred and the balance was paid to the Court Of Protection.
It is alleged that the parents of the girl used around £500,000 of the settlement to lavish themselves with luxuries. These included some sixteen new cars in the space of five years. As it has been widely reported, Doncaster Crown Court was told that they behaved “as if they had won the lottery”. The couple were afforded £4,000 per month for household expenses, which sadly it seems was spent on the said cars, jewellery and on credit cards.
The Court of Protection sanctioned the purchase of three properties, one presumes to provide ongoing income for their daughter. However, these included one the couple already owned, the money for which (£74,000) was simply spent by them. The Court also agreed to release some £235,000 for a villa in Florida which was never purchased.
Cathy Watson, 44, denies all charges and her husband, Robert Hills, 49 of Grimsby, has admitted four offences of theft.
As they say: the trial continues...