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  • February 1, 2018

A Major Win After a Tough Few Years

A Major Win After a Tough Few Years

MAJOK v KORYIOM [2017] WADC 157

The appellant, who is now 27 years old, was seriously assaulted by the respondent on 13 April 2013. The respondent was convicted after trial, on 6 May 2014, of the offence of doing grievous bodily harm (the offence).

On 23 June 2014 the respondent was sentenced for the offence to a term of imprisonment of 6 years, backdated to 13 April 2013 with eligibility for parole. The findings of fact by the sentencing judge included that while the appellant and the respondent were at a friend’s house, the appellant was physically assaulted by the respondent and then taken into the back-garden area of the house adjoining the carport, where “for no reason that can be discerned” the respondent used an accelerant spray of some kind and set the appellant alight. His clothing caught fire, he lost consciousness, but regained same a little time later and felt that he was burning. The appellant suffered serious burns to his body, in particular his left forearm, hand and right chest, which required skin grafts, and he has been left with permanent scars.

The appellant made an application for criminal injuries compensation pursuant to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 2003 (the Act) in respect of his injuries and consequent losses. On 18 November 2016, the Chief Assessor of Criminal Injuries Compensation (the assessor) awarded Mr Majok criminal injuries compensation in the sum of $23,100. That sum included $1,100 for medical report fees.

On 1 December 2016, the appellant filed a notice of appeal against the decision of the assessor on the ground that the award of compensation made to him was “so manifestly inadequate as to constitute an error of law”.

The claimed inadequacy in the award to the appellant related to three areas:

  • the physical injuries suffered by the appellant, in particular the scarring to his hands, left forearm and chest;
  • the mental or nervous shock he suffered as a consequence of the offence; and
  • the failure of the assessor to allow any award for past loss of earnings or future loss of earning capacity.

The appellant also sought the cost of future medical treatment, based on the new evidence from his treating doctor.

In the findings the presiding Judge stated, “… the pain and suffering and residual scarring alone are enough for me to conclude that the award of damages of $22,000 is inadequate…”

The court stated that it was satisfied that the appellant has suffered and still suffers from mental and nervous shock within the meaning of the Act, namely PTSD, depression and anxiety and somatic delusions, as a result of the offence and the injuries he received.The court indicated that it had no doubt that the assault on the appellant and the burns he suffered during the offence would have been a very traumatic experience.

The Judge concluded “… for the reasons which follow I consider that the award of damages to Mr Majok was manifestly inadequate. I have allowed the appeal and assessed Mr Majok’s damages as the maximum allowable under the Act of $75,000.”

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