Jake Pierce, now 31, brought a claim against Doncaster Council alleging a “breach of duty on the basis of failure to take competent steps to protect him during his childhood”.
He had been removed from his family in the summer of 1976 and returned in November 1977. He eventually ran away from home in 1990 and lived on the streets to escape “severe neglect and emotional and physical abuse from his parents”.
Pierce told the court this abuse included being hit with a poker, a stiletto shoe and a belt, that he suffered “extensive burns” to his buttocks and feet, was thrown downstairs, had knives held to his face, was threatened with being killed, tied-up and locked in a freezer, and left outside naked in the garden during cold weather.
Crucially, many case records were missing. Doncaster Council defended the action saying that, in the absence of records, “everything must be presumed to have been carried out properly”. One surviving record, however, stated that Pierce should be kept in care otherwise he “would be subjected to such poor quality parenting that (his) health could be at serious risk”.
The judge, Mr Justice Eady, acknowledged the “real possibility” that Pierce’s personality disorder may have contributed to an “embellished, dramatised or exaggerated” account. But he remained convinced that there was “a genuine history of intermittent neglect and abuse”.
He found that Pierce “did suffer indifference, neglect and periodic violence at the hands of his parents” and awarded him £25,000 damages. Doncaster Council is seeking leave to appeal against the decision.