'Child abuse victims can finally get justice' after court ruling over St William's Catholic children's home
A VICTIM of horrific abuse at an East Yorkshire care home feels justice can finally be done after a landmark court ruling.
Graham Baverstock was sexually abused as a child by Brother James Carragher at St William's Community Home in Market Weighton.
Carragher was a member of Catholic organisation the De La Salle Order of Christian Brothers at the time.
An ongoing police investigation is looking into alleged abuse committed by others at the home.
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Now the Supreme Court has ruled the Catholic Church and the Brothers are both liable to pay compensation to Mr Baverstock and more than 170 other victims who were abused at the home from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Mr Baverstock said: "This is a landmark ruling.
"I welcome the decision from the Supreme Court because it is now clear who is liable for the abuse at St William's."
Mr Baverstock arrived at the care home in 1973 and endured months of violent and sexual abuse at the hands of Carragher, who was then its principal.
Carragher was jailed in 1993 for seven years.
The home was closed down two years later.
A 2001 investigation into St William's saw Carragher sentenced to a further 14 years in prison after being found guilty of seven counts of buggery and 14 counts of indecent assault against 22 boys, some as young as 12.
Since then, the Catholic Church and the Brothers have been embroiled in a dispute over who should pay compensation to victims of abuse at the home.
The Supreme Court yesterday ruled they would both have to make a contribution.
It opens the way for victims to pursue them through the courts.
Mr Baverstock said: "I would urge both parties who have been found to be liable in the case to ease the suffering of the victims and recompense the victims speedily without dragging the case on further.
"The victims have suffered enormously. A lot of these victims are getting older and I would hope the Church will, in good faith, bring an end to all this suffering."
David Greenwood, of Jordan's Solicitors, is representing many of the victims.
He said he was hopeful the Church and the Brothers would agree to settle claims out of court.
Mr Greenwood said: "This ruling means the claimants can now get on with their individual cases, rather than having to wait around.
"I hope our opponents realise the importance of finding an end to the cases in the minds of the claimants.
"I hope they will find a way to negotiate a settlement."
But after years of suffering, Mr Baverstock was less optimistic.
He said: "My heart tells me they will drag their heels.
"If the past is anything to go by, they will challenge each and every case.
"But I appeal to the Catholic Church and the De La Selle Order of Christian Brothers to reconcile themselves to stopping the suffering of the victims. We were 14-year-old children, and in some cases younger, placed in their care and subjected to the most horrific physical, emotional and sexual abuse any institution could ever recall."
The Church had been told by lower courts that it alone was liable for compensation.
Its appeal to the Supreme Court led to yesterday's decision.
In a statement, the Church's Diocese of Middlesbrough, which covers Market Weighton, said: "We appealed this case in the belief that there was an important principle of justice at stake: that those who ran St William's on a day-to-day basis at the time the alleged abuse took place should share the burden of compensating its victims.
"The Supreme Court has agreed, unanimously overturning the decisions of the lower courts, and ruling that the De La Salle Brothers should share liability.
"We are also pleased that, now that the question of who is legally liable for the historic abuse at St William's has been decided, the individual claims for compensation can begin to be examined by the courts."
The Church's compensation costs will be met by its insurers.
Its statement also expressed the hope claims could now be dealt with "as swiftly as possible, to give the best chance of healing".
The Brothers also issued a statement.
It said: "We accept the decision of the Supreme Court that, together with the Diocese of Middlesbrough, we have vicarious liability for victims of abuse committed at St William's by a member of the Order. This has been a complex legal case that had to be settled by the courts.
"As we have previously stated, we deeply regret what happened at St William's and the harm that was done there through the behaviour of James Carragher."
The Brothers described his actions as "a deep betrayal of the Order's mission to young people and of the trust that was placed in him as a De La Salle Brother."
Both organisations said they were now confident in their safeguarding policies to protect children.