A former resident of a children’s home in Coventry children’s home has successfully obtained an out-of-court settlement in a civil action against Coventry City Council for physical and sexual abuse he suffered while in the care of the Council.
“X” was a child being raised by his father who was a lone parent. Sadly when he was 15 years old his father died, and having no relatives who could care for him he was made a ward of the court. He was subsequently placed at a children’s home in Coventry called Wisteria Lodge, where he remained for about a year.
X’s first care worker initially assigned to him at the home was Ivan McChleery. McChleery was X’s first point of contact and was meant to keep a special eye out for him as his ‘link worker’ within the home. Whilst X was placed at Wisteria Lodge, every Saturday McChleery would collect him in his car and take him to his small holding where he had a workshop. Here X would help McChleery with minor mechanical tasks for a couple of hours before McChleery drove him back to Wisteria Lodge. On some occasions, McChleery would drive X to his home where X would complete chores for him, like window cleaning.
McChleery had a caravan on his small holding and he would take X there on some occasions. On one occasion McChleery shot a fox with a gun he kept at the caravan and made X take a photograph of him holding it. Mr X was terrified at this experience.
The last time X went with McChleery to the small-holding, McChleery took him to a pub first and brought them two pints each. They then returned to the small-holding where they worked together on cars. They returned to McChleery’s caravan to take showers. McChleery urged X to go first, and when he exited the shower, McChleery indecently assaulted him by forcing him to perform oral sex on him. McChleery then acted as if nothing had happened and drove X back to Wisteria Lodge, dropping him off nearby.
X also suffered brutal physical assaults whilst in care at Wisteria Lodge. This included violence from both other residents and staff.
The Police Investigation
X contacted West Midlands Police in 2014 to report the assault by McChleery. He provided a written statement. X’s evidence formed part of West Midland’s police’s wider investigation into complaints against other staff members at Wisteria Lodge.
In 2018, McChleery was charged with two counts of cruelty between 1993 and 1995 and two counts of indecent assault between 1996 and 1997. He was convicted of one count of indecent assault against Mr X, and on 27th January 2019 was sentenced to a term of four years in prison.
The Civil Compensation Claim
Following McChleery’s conviction, X decided to pursue a civil compensation claim against Coventry City Council. Mr X argued that Coventry City Council were legally responsible for the actions of their employees at Wisteria Lodge and so should be held accountable for the abuse he suffered at their hands.
In the course of the civil claim, X was examined by a court expert: a Consultant Psychiatrist, whose report helped to quantify his claim. This expert found that X was suffering from a history of Harmful alcohol use. This expert was also of the opinion that X may have suffered from an Emotionally unstable personality disorder (with symptoms of recurrent self-harm, instability in relationships and suicidal behaviour) but said that it was not possible to diagnose these disorders due to X’s alcohol use. This expert also believed X was adversely affected emotionally by the physical and sexual abuse he suffered at Wisteria Lodge and that this abuse contributed to any difficulties X had with relationships, family life and education. This expert recommended that X receive future treatment for his Harmful alcohol use.
This report was disclosed to the legal representatives of Coventry City Council and after negotiations, X was offered a five-figure sum by way of out-of-court settlement.
Whilst no amount of money can make up for the harm suffered by X, it is hoped that the settlement will help X to find closure and will also provide some recognition for the lifelong injury he has suffered.