Man sues Doncaster for failure to protect in groundbreaking case

Jake Pierce, who claimed Doncaster Council social workers left him at the mercy of his abusive parents, has won £25,000 compensation in the High Court in the first case of its kind.

Pierce, now 31, sued Doncaster Council for failing to take him into care while he was still a baby and not doing enough to protect him.

He told the court he was subjected to almost dailing beatings by his parents who kept him and his siblings in squalid conditions from babyhood until the age of 14, when he ran away from home.

He claimed his mother used cutlery to scratch his eyes and his father pushed him against a wall and held a knife to his throat.

“I lived in fear. My mother and father told me that, if I told people at school what was happening, I would be killed,” Pierce told the High Court in London this week.

Pierce’s barrister argued that Pierce should have been taken into local authority care in 1977 and accused social workers of “ignoring obvious signs of abuse” and failing “to take competent steps to protect him.”

Judge Justice Eady agreed that social workers had failed in their duty towards Pierce, who has an acute personality disorder, and awarded him £25,000 in damages.

While the judge said there may have been “a degree of exaggeration and dramatisation” in Pierce’s evidence due to his mental condition, he accepted his account of “indifference, neglect and periodic violence” at his parent’s hands.

Catherine Foster, barrister for Doncaster Council, told the judge after the ruling: “This case is significant in terms of it being the first case of its kind. [This] judgement may now be seen as a licence for a number of others to make similar claims.”

The council has been left with six-figure legal costs bills following the case, and is seeking permission to appeal.

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