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Compensation after life-changing injuries

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Popular Milford venue: Circles Nightclub (Now The Basement)

Popular Milford venue: Circles Nightclub (Now The Basement)

MARK TIERNEY has been awarded what he and lawyers see as fair compensation eight years on from a near-lethal assault, which left him severely brain damaged.

On the evening of December 2 2007 Mark Tierney was in Circles Nightclub, Milford Haven, and later that night he was involved in an incident with Christopher John Freeman, formerly from the town, who was said to have assaulted him using a vodka bottle, which caused the lifechanging injuries.

During court proceedings which followed, Freeman denied that he had used the bottle as a weapon and also pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder, grievous bodily harm with intent and causing GBH without intending to do so. However, he admitted to having offered the Circles nightclub manager £5,000 to delete video recordings of him coming and going from the premises.

THE EVIDENCE

Freeman claimed that the attack had taken place while he was walking home to his flat in the centre of the town, and said that he was first attacked by Mr Tierney, a point that was greatly contested by the prosecution.

The manager of Circles, Chris Thomas, told the court that, after the attack, a bouncer followed Freeman into the gents, where he saw two men with mobile phones in a cubicle and overheard a man saying that he needed to leave Wales that night as he thought he had killed Tierney.

The other man who was in the stall with Freeman, Mr Julian Walker, was also in court being accused of arranging for Freeman’s clothes to be washed in order to remove any forensic evidence. He denied a charge of undertaking an act tending to pervert the course of justice.

The prosecution said that, although Walker was not involved in the attack, he knew that Freeman had unlawfully assaulted someone.

During the attack Tierney sustained a severe, traumatic brain injury which means that he requires lifelong care.

Represented by law firm Hugh James, Mark was involved in an arduous eight year battle before he was finally awarded compensation for the ‘serious nature’ of his injuries and significant loss of earnings.

Mark Tierney, was formerly a pipe fitter from Barry, and had been working in Milford Haven. He was out socialising with friends and colleagues before the brutal assault took place during the early hours of the morning.

NO RECOLLECTION

The injuries Mark sustained were ‘so severe’ that he has no recollection of the incident.

He was found lying unconscious on his back by a passer-by in the street after the incident.

After being rushed to hospital he was treated at the Intensive Care Unit at Withybush Hospital for two weeks, and remained in a coma for a further four.

His level of consciousness was recorded as being 3/15 on the Glasgow coma scale (indicating deep unconsciousness) and CT scans revealed a left side scalp haematoma, nasal fracture and swelling of the brain.

Since then, Mark has suffered ongoing cognitive problems, intellectual deficit, behavioural problems, poor balance, speech and language difficulties.

As a result, his 25 year relationship with his partner completely broke down; he is unable to return to work and now requires care and support, which is provided by his three daughters.

Speaking about the incident, Mark said: “The attack has had a huge effect on my family. My youngest daughter, who was only ten years old at the time of the assault, was really affected by what happened to me and then also had to deal with the break-up of my marriage to her mum.

“On a personal level the attack has completely changed how I live my life. Before the attack I was very active, not only in my job but I regularly enjoyed having a kick around playing football which I will never be able to do again. Financially the attack has affected the whole family as I am no longer able to work and support my family.”

CARDIFF LAW FIRM

In 2008, Cardiff-based law firm Hugh James were appointed to represent Mark and his lawyers immediately made an application to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA). In 2010 Hugh James challenged the CICA when they stated that Mark was not eligible to receive an award on the basis that they considered that he had provoked the assault.

However after his lawyers obtained evidence to challenge this, Mark was deemed eligible to receive an award in principle. Hugh James also obtained two interim payments to ease the financial stress on Mark and his family whilst the case was ongoing.

INITIAL OFFER REJECTED

Screen Shot 2016-04-28 at 12.19.48In 2014, the CICA made a monetary offer to settle the claim but due to the seriousness of his injuries and lifelong loss of earnings, specialist solicitors Hugh James advised Mark to reject the offer on the basis that his claim was worth significantly more.

Cari Sowden-Taylor, a Senior Associate from Hugh James’ Neurolaw team, explained: “Having pursued many CICA brain injury cases and assessing the true value of the claim we were able to advise Mark that we felt that the first offer from the CICA was low in light of the injuries he’d sustained and the financial losses he’d incurred as was likely to incur in the future.

“We therefore advised Mark to request a review of the decision but the CICA remained of the opinion that their offer was reasonable.

“Comprehensive evidence was therefore obtained and submitted to CICA in accordance with the appeal process and the matter was then referred to an independent tribunal panel who agreed with our arguments and as a result Mark was awarded nearly three times the amount that CICA offered him.

“We are delighted with the outcome for Mark and his family and feel that they have finally received some justice since the assault eight years ago.”

CRIMINAL CASE

Christopher Freeman, 37 at the time in May 2008, was cleared of more serious, alternative charges of attempted murder and inflicting GBH with intent.

Freeman, who had previous convictions for violence, was jailed for five years, of which he must serve a minimum of three and a half years behind bars.

The jury at Swansea Crown Court cleared fellow LNG worker Julian Walker, 36, of Rectory Avenue, Hakin, of doing an act tending to pervert the course of justice.

He was accused of arranging for Freeman’s clothes to be washed in order to remove any forensic evidence, knowing that Freeman had assaulted someone.

A third man, Peter Harll, 21, of St Ann’s Road, Milford Haven, had already pleaded guilty to carrying out an act tending to pervert the course of justice by washing Freeman’s clothes. He was jailed for eight months.

For legal reasons the amount of the compensation settlement cannot be revealed.

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Crime Commissioner continues to secure funding for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual violence

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THE POLICE and Crime Commissioner for Dyfed-Powys Police is again making the offer for organisations that support victims of domestic and sexual abuse to bid for additional funds.

Funding was made available last year, in light of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on organisations supporting victims of domestic and sexual violence.

It was part of a £76 million package of support made available by the UK Government.

Police and Crime Commissioner Dafydd Llywelyn said: “Thanks to this additional funding, we can ensure that victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual violence in Dyfed-Powys can access specialist services for support, at a time when they are needed the most.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a rise in domestic violence during the pandemic and victims need help now more than ever and I am grateful for the work of all the service providers across the Force area that help these men, women and families who are most in need.

“I want to reassure anyone who is in an abusive situation or relationship that you do not need to suffer in silence, and I urge anyone to report abuse to the Police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“This funding is open both to providers whom I currently commission and those that I do not currently fund. However, unlike the extraordinary Covid-19 funding provided in 2020/21, organisations do not need to be a registered charity, a charitable incorporated organisation, or a social enterprise to be eligible for this funding. They must, however, provide support services which have the purpose of helping victims of sexual violence or domestic abuse cope with the impacts of crime and, as far as possible, recover from the harm they have experienced. We would also encourage applications from small specialist organisations that support groups with protected characteristics.

“If you wish to submit a request for this funding, further guidance is available on my website, and can be requested via the office e-mail address.”

Closing date for submissions is close of play on Friday, March 12, 2021.

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Covid alert level lowered for whole of UK

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THE COVID alert level for all four nations of the United Kingdom has been lowered to alert level 4.

The decision comes following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in light of the most recent data.

In recent weeks, the R-rate and the number of covid cases has been on the decline.

Chief Medical Officer for Wales, Dr Frank Atherton said: “Following advice from the Joint Biosecurity Centre and in the light of the most recent data, the four UK Chief Medical Officers and NHS England National Medical Director agree that the UK alert level should move from level 5 to level 4 in all four nations.

“The health services across the four nations remain under significant pressure with a high number of patients in hospital, however thanks to the efforts of public we are now seeing numbers consistently declining, and the threat of the NHS and other health services being overwhelmed within 21 days has receded.

“We should be under no illusions – transmission rates, hospital pressures and deaths are still very high. In time, the vaccines will have a major impact and we encourage everyone to get vaccinated when they receive the offer. However for the time being it is really important that we all – vaccinated or not – remain vigilant and continue to follow the guidelines.

“We know how difficult the situation has been and remains to be for healthcare workers, we thank them for their immense effort, skill and professionalism throughout the pandemic.”

Under the Welsh Government’s Alert level 4 restrictions, schools and colleges, places of worship, community centres, playgrounds and public parks are among those that can be opened.

Theatres, entertainment venues, leisure facilities and outdoor visitors attractions are among the places that must remain close while the country is in Alert Level 4.

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Postmaster and politicians welcome Goodwick cash machine U-turn

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GOODWICK post office will now be keeping its ATM, after a U-turn by Post Office Ltd.

The machine was due to be removed within months with the post master, Jon Moverley saying that it would be a disaster for the village.

If the ATM had been removed, there would have been just two 24-hour ATMs serving the whole of Fishguard and Goodwick in the short term and three when the Co-op renovations are completed.

Both politicians and local residents then got behind the campaign to keep the ATM

Pembrokeshire politicians Paul Davies and Stephen Crabb have welcomed the news that Goodwick post office is now set to keep its ATM facility. Following representations made by both politicians to the Post Office, it’s now been confirmed that Goodwick Post Office will be included in the rollout of ATM machines across the post office network.

Mr Davies said “This is really welcome news. I’m pleased that the Post Office has listened to the representations made by the local community and decided to retain the ATM at Goodwick post office. The facility is so important for local people and businesses and it’s great that that’s been recognised and the Post Office has committed to keeping it.”

Following the Post Office’s decision to invest in Goodwick’s ATM rather than remove it, Stephen Crabb MP, who campaigned for the ATM to stay, commented: “It’s great news that the Post Office has overturned its own decision and will be keeping an ATM machine in Goodwick.

“Access to cash continues to be incredibly important for a number of people and businesses and I’m pleased to have played my part in working with John from the Post Office in Goodwick, Paul Davies MS and the wider community to highlight the ATMs importance to the area. It shows what can be achieved when we work together.”

The postmaster described the news as ‘brilliant’. Mr Moverley thanked supporters.

He said “Many thanks to all of you who have used the machine and complained to POL about the removal. We were also supported by our MP, MS and mayor, the National Federation of Sub-postmasters and our Chamber of Trade.

“Everyone did their bit, and it says an enormous amount about the strength of the community.

“We are delighted that locals and so many other people have come together to save this essential facility in the village.”

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