No ACC cover for petrified victim
A woman who was terrorised by a burglar who broke into her house repeatedly in a case a judge likened to a "horror movie script" has been denied ACC cover for post traumatic stress disorder.
But her lawyer, John Miller, has confirmed he will appeal against the decision.
In 2004, Richard Steven Newport terrorised the then 61-year-old woman for a year, breaking into the Hamilton home where she lived alone six times.
He rummaged through her lingerie, stole jewellery then posted it back to her, smashed a glass door as she tried to beat him off, set fire to photographs of her and left the pieces burning on her bed, and finally stole a slug gun she slept with under her pillow.
He was jailed for two years in 2005 on six charges of burglary.
Sentencing, Judge Neil MacLean said Newport became fixated with the woman, subjecting her to "a series of intrusions that sound in many respects like a script from a horror movie".
"You carried out unspeakable, horrid things in her home," he said. "It is clear this has wrecked her life. Clearly he is a very disturbed man whose thought processes are out of kilter."
The victim was later diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.
Mr Miller said yesterday the woman was applying for cover for her mental injury suffered from the incident. If approved, it would then open the door to the types of cover she was entitled to - medical, counselling costs etc - and possibly a lump sum.
In ACC's recently released decision, Wellington District Court Judge Ongley said the only relevant sections of law under which the victim could apply for compensation were personal injury and mental injury.
To qualify the victim would have had to have suffered a mental injury by the physical actions of another person. The only injury the victim suffered was from walking on broken glass from a pane Newport smashed to gain entry to her house.
Judge Ongley said the legislation required "direct causation" and found the victim's mental injury was not a direct consequence of her physical injuries and dismissed her appeal.
Mr Miller said it all came down to the interpretation of the law.
"We just think it's a bit of a harsh interpretation for a compensation statute . . . as long as it's part of the matrix of the frightening event you should get cover."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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