Richard Davison in ground breaking sexual abuse case

Richard Davison of 12KBW has obtained an award of over £172,000 for woman who was sexually abused by her karate instructor as a teenager. Special measures were used at trial in an important extension of the practice in the criminal courts to a civil claim for damages.

In BDA v Domenico Quirino [2015] EWHC 2974 (QB) HHJ Graham Wood QC sitting as a High Court Judge awarded the victim (known as “BDA” to preserve her anonymity) substantial damages. She had been groomed by the defendant as a young teenager when he was her karate instructor. BDA had been sexually abused by him from the age of 15. Although through her hard work she had gone on to achieve a first class degree in Biomedical Sciences and a Masters with Distinction, and she was on track to gain a PhD in Biomedical Research, her education had been disrupted by the effect of the abuse and the consequent criminal proceedings. The result was that she was 4 years behind her contemporaries.

BDA was awarded £30,000 for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, £16,000 for mental distress / injury to feelings and £9,000 for aggravated damages, a total of £55,000 for non-pecuniary loss.

As a result of the disruption to her education and the delay in BDA starting her career in the bio-chemical or pharmaceutical industry, the Judge awarded a sum of £75,000 for loss of earnings. He also awarded £30,000 to reflect the Claimant’s disadvantage on the open labour market
Other losses amounted to just over £12,500.

Quite apart from the very significant awards of damages made in this case, it is notable for the use during the trial of special measures. The Defendant was not legally represented at trial, although he did have the benefit of a McKenzie friend. In a parallel with the regime in the criminal courts involving unrepresented defendants in sexual offence cases, the Judge put questions to BDA on behalf of Mr Quirino, rather than allowing him as her abuser (liability was not in dispute) to cross-examine BDA himself. BDA gave evidence from behind a screen so that she could be seen by only her counsel and the Judge, again reflecting the standard practice in the criminal courts in such cases.