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Released On 14th Dec 2020

Great Ormond Street hospital porter convicted of sexual offences

In 1994 Paul Farrell obtained a job as a Hospital Porter at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in London. Unbeknown to his employers, Farrell had been abusing children since 1985, some as young as 6 or 7 years old. Whilst to date, none of Farrell's victims involved in the Crown Court proceedings were patients of the hospital, some of the abuse took place on the hospital premises. Farrell used his position as a hospital employee to gain access to locked areas of the hospital to which the public were not allowed.

Farrell was arrested on 16 January 2020 and appeared at Highbury Magistrates Courts. He was charged with a variety of serious sexual offences.  The court heard how the charges related to 7 victims who because of their age cannot be named for legal reasons.  The victims are now aged between 8 and 43 years old.  Farrell was Committed to Wood Green Crown Court.  Remarkably, Farrell continued offending until June 2020 with one boy under the age of 13 years old sexually assaulted during lockdown. 
The prosecution had initially laid 79 charges relating to 6 victims.  Farrell pleaded guilty to:- 
2 counts of indecency with a child.
17 counts of indecent assault on a male.
14 counts of sexual assault of a child under 13.
5 counts of causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity. 
4 counts of sexual activity with a child under 13.
8 counts of sexual activity with a child under 16.
3 counts of causing a child under 16 to engage in sexual activity. 
2 counts of attempted rape. 
3 counts of making indecent photographs of children.
In addition to the litany of charges to which he pleaded guilty, Farrell denied a further 21 serious sexual offences including:-
11 counts of indecent assault of a male.
1 count of attempted rape of a child under 13.
6 counts of sexual assault of a child under 13.
1 count of sexual activity with a child under 16.
1 count of rape.
1 count of procuring the sexual services of a child.

The offences are so serious that Farrell will receive a custodial sentence of many years.  This may bring a degree of closure for some of the victims, but cannot compensate them financially for the serious abuse they suffered, nor the psychological effects of their abuse and possible ruination of their education and career.

So what can be done to compensate survivors of these awful crimes?

It is theoretically possible for a survivor to bring a claim for compensation directly against Farrell.  However, Farrell was a hospital porter earning a minimum wage, has not surprisingly lost his job and will almost certainly never work again.  Farrell is very likely to be impecunious and any claim against him will almost certainly result in an unsatisfied judgment, thus those affected are very unlikely to gain compensation via this route.

Survivors can submit a claim to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority or CICA.  The CICA is a taxpayer funded organisation that compensates the innocent victims of violent crime. The sexual abuse perpetrated by Farrell is manifestly a violent crime.  However, the CICA has strict time limits that must be complied with.  One of these is that claims should be lodged within 2 years of first reporting the abuse to the police.  There may be a multitude of reasons why survivors do not readily come forward within the CICA time limits.  The CICA will often exercise its discretion to extend the otherwise strict time limit to lodge a claim if there are exceptional circumstances. Sometimes survivors will say they have been asked by the police not to lodge claims pending the outcome of a criminal investigation and court process. This explanation is generally accepted by the CICA although survivors should submit a CICA claim as soon as possible after the offender has been sentenced.  Frequently survivors will say they have been too traumatised by the abuse to engage meaningfully with the legal process and that they have simply put their dreadful experiences to the back of their mind to try to forget about the sexual abuse. This explanation is usually accepted by the CICA, but often it will ask for medical evidence and sight of an applicant’s medical records before reaching a conclusion.

Survivors may also wish to make a claim against Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Foundation Trust, the umbrella organisation that runs Great Ormond Street Hospital. Whereas the details have yet to be made public, those affected may be able to bring a claim against the hospital, but much depends on the individual circumstances as to whether the legal principle of vicarious liability applies.  The survivors of the sexual abuse will need to show that Farrell was acting in the course of his employment as a hospital porter and that role was closely connected to the manner in which he came into contact with those children.  Simply taking his victims to private areas of the hospital may not be sufficient to enable them to successfully sue the hospital Trust.

Samantha Robson is a specialist sexual abuse solicitor and has been representing survivors of sexual abuse for the past 20 years.  She has represented numerous children affected by the Dr Myles Bradbury scandal at Addenbrookes hospital in Cambridge.  Robert Shaw has gained six figure sums of compensation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, thus Robsonshaw are uniquely placed to help you to bring your claim.  In complex cases such as Paul Farrell, those affected would be well advised to seek expert help.  We offer a free, confidential, no obligation telephone consultation so please contact our specialist solicitors for expert help with your potential claim.  Please call us on 01392 345333, or email us at enquiries@robsonshaw.uk.


Tags: Child abuse