Susan Couch was lucky to survive William Bell's murderous rampage at the Panmure RSA in 2001.AMEN!
Three people were shot dead by Bell, who was out on parole at the time. Susan Couch was left brain-damaged and partially paralysed as a result of the attack and has spent years in rehab.
She's battled courageously to overcome her physical injuries, but the ongoing battle she's been having with successive governments for compensation is not one she should have to be fighting.
Susan was lucky to survive - but that was about the only piece of luck she's had.
She was unable to get ACC for lost earnings because, shortly before the attack, her relationship had ended and she'd had to give up work, temporarily, to look after her young son.
She was also unable to get a lump-sum payment from ACC as the victim of an attack because of a loophole, and so she has struggled to make a life for herself and her child.
And although the decision by the Supreme Court to allow Susan Couch and her lawyer leave to sue the Department of Corrections for negligence might look like the end of the road for Susan, it's not.
The judges, with the exception of Sian Elias, have made it far more difficult for Susan and her lawyer to win their case.
Previously, they had to show the Department of Corrections was negligent - now she and her lawyer have to prove that not only was the department negligent, but also that staff there knew Bell posed a risk but did nothing about it. The judges have raised the legal bar to a near-impossible height.
Susan's a fighter though, and so she's not giving up. But I'd love to see the Government make use of a facility it has to approve ex-gratia payments to individuals.
Every minister can authorise a payment relating to matters within their portfolio up to $75,000; anything above that must be approved by Cabinet.
Judith Collins, the Minister of Corrections, is a fair woman. She must see Susan Couch has been hard done by. The Crown has surely spent way in excess of what Susan Couch is asking for, fighting her at every turn.
A one-off payment from Cabinet that would allow Ms Couch to rebuild her shattered life is the very least the Government could do to right the wrongs that she has suffered.
March 28, 2010
Kerre Woodham - Grant mercy for attack survivor - National - NZ Herald News