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Cumbria shootings victim's family get payout slashed because son had conviction

The grieving parents of Derrick Bird victim Darren Rewcastle have had their compensation halved – because he had a criminal conviction dating back 20 years.

Cumbrian shootings photo
Darren Rewcastle

Mr Rewcastle, 43, was the third of Bird’s 12 victims, shot as he chatted to fellow taxi drivers in Duke Street on June 2 last year.

His heartbroken parents Ted Scoones, 73, and his wife Betty, 70, said no amount of money could compensate them for the loss of their only son.

But they are baffled and hurt by the decision to cut their criminal injuries compensation for their son, a popular father-of-two who was trusted enough to have a taxi licence.

They said his only run-in with the law in the last 20 years was a fine for dropping litter in 2008.

Mr and Mrs Scoones say their anguish has been deepened by a letter from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA), confirming that their compensation would be halved, to £5,500, because of trouble their son got into as a young man.

They believe the decision may be linked to the £400 litter fine imposed on their son three years ago. But the CICA said they would never halve a compensation award because a victim had been convicted of dropping litter.

After his death, the couple described Mr Rewcastle, of Bigrigg, as a “beloved brother, brother-in-law, dad and uncle, who was the life and soul of the party.”

In an emotional interview, Mrs Scoones said: “Darren lived in this area for nearly 20 years, and he never brought any trouble to our door.

“He was a lovely person, and I’ve never heard anybody say anything bad about him. All the people who knew him said he was a lovely lad and so helpful. He helped a lot of people and was so caring.

“He never spent a day on the dole in his life.

“He loved the taxis, and would go out at 8.30am and not come back till late.”

The litter fine was Mr Rewcastle’s only run-in with the law in the last 20 years, she said.

Mrs Scoones added: “If he’d been a bad lad, they wouldn’t have given him a taxi licence.

“The letter from the CICA said he had a police record from the north east, when he was a young man, but I don’t see why that should come into question more than 20 years later.

“It’s hurt us.

“We don’t care about the money: we’d rather Darren was sitting here with us.

“He was our only son and we’re proud of him.”

The couple say they have not received any compensation to date, and it is not known whether full payments – thought to be of £11,000 – have been made to relatives of Bird’s other victims.

A spokesman for the National Victims’ Association said: “We have supported murder victims’ families for almost 20 years and many have been left distraught at their callous treatment by the CICA.”

A CICA said: ‘The criminal injuries compensation scheme requires us to take account of any unspent criminal convictions a victim may have when deciding whether to award compensation.

“We will always consider if there are any mitigating factors. In general, the more recent and serious the offences, the more we will take them into account when making a decision on compensation awards.”

He added that compensation would only be halved in cases where the victim had been convicted of a serious criminal offence, punished by a jail term of at least 30 months, even if this was 20 years ago.

Have your say

Not so, Phil. In the case of two or more claimants, the payout is limited to £5,500 for each claimant. This amount is the standard payout and will be reduced if there are criminal convictions or other matters to be taken into consideration by CICA.

Posted by Muriel Q on 31 January 2011 at 15:52

Worth pointing out that "fatal injury" criminal injuries compensation claims can be made by any individual falling into any of the following categories: a partner of the deceased, a child of the deceased, or a parent of the deceased. Anybody who falls into one of those categories is entitled to make a claim. So, if there are say two children, both children will be entitled to make a claim. Likewise, two parents means two potential claims.
Also worth noting that claims must be submitted within two years of the death. So anybody who has not understood the rules - and I'm sure there will be some - is still entitled to make a claim.
There's no monetary limit on the number of claims that can be settle. If you're in an appropriate category, you can claim.
Hope this helps.

Posted by Phil C on 31 January 2011 at 14:14

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