Abuse victim says he feels cheated by claim cut-off date ruling

Robert McEwen as a  youngster - he was sexually abused by his elder half brother Michael Lyttle who has been jailed

Robert McEwen as a youngster - he was sexually abused by his elder half brother Michael Lyttle who has been jailed

He suffered horrendous sexual abuse at the hands of a predator who has now been jailed – but missed out on compensation by just three months.

Robert McEwen, now 50, was sexually abused as a child by his older half-brother.

Michael Lyttle, now 56, has been jailed for eight months, but a bizarre rule means that anyone abused before 1979 is not entitled to compensation if they lived under the same roof as their abuser.

The rule was changed on October 1, 1979, but as the most recent offences against Mr McEwen were August 1, 1979, he has missed out on being able to claim.

He said: “It’s not about the money – it’s the principle of it.

“If I had been abused a few days later I could make a claim.

“It’s senseless.”

The frustrated victim has bravely waived his right to anonymity to highlight a bizarre rule which means people who lived under the same roof as their abuser before a certain date are not entitled to compensation.

The dad-of-two, who now lives in the Tarleton area, applied to the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board after the case but received a letter saying his bid had failed due to the so-called ‘Same Roof Rule’. It cites victims who were abused before October 1, 1979, who lived in the same household as their abuser are not able to make a claim.

Lyttle, of Norland Drive, Heysham, near Lancaster, was convicted of charges of indecent assault and inciting a boy under 14 to commit gross indecency, following a trial at Preston Crown Court.

He had worked as a shopfitter and as a French polisher in banks and building societies but had been disabled since 2002.

Robert, who was driven to attempt to take his own life in the 1990s after carrying the secret of the abuse, said: “It’s not about the money – it’s the principle of it.

“I lived for more than 30 years with the knowledge of what happened to me and vowed I would never say anything because it would break my mother’s heart to know one her her sons could do this.

“In 1990 I actually tried to commit suicide as I couldn’t speak up about the abuse.

“I never had a relationship with Mick – I could never be a loving brother to him after what he did. When my mum was dying of cancer it was her wish to get a photograph of us together, which I found very difficult.

“She thought the world of him but in her last few years I think she became scared of him, he was unpredictable.

“I only came forward the Christmas after she died.

“I fell apart in court. Reliving the case really got to me.

“I think many victims will feel cheated by this rule, like their ordeal matters less than other people’s. Everybody should be treated the same.

The former highways worker added: “For me the trial did not give me closure, it is with me all the time. I am seeing a psychologist.

“At first I considered the compensation would be “dirty money”, but after reconsidering I decided any claim award would go to benefit my children.

“My son has just started university.”

Michael Lyttle, 56, whose address was given in court as Norland Drive, Heysham, was found guilty following a trial into the historic cases at Preston Crown Court last month.

He had earlier denied indecent assault and inciting a boy under 14 to commit gross indecency. Lyttle, who walks with the aid of a stick, was permitted to sit in the witness stand as he gave evidence.

Jurors were told that in the late 1970s, around the time of the alleged offences, he was sent to borstal for offences of criminal damage and assault.

He also has drug convictions from 2009.

Lyttle told jurors he had been disabled since 2002 but before that had worked as a shop fitter and as a French polisher in banks and building societies.

He also revealed he was diagnosed with ADHD and showed traits of Asperger’s syndrome as a 14-year-old, and kidney problems.

He denied ever doing “anything sexual” with a boy but the jury found him guilty of indecent assault and gross indecency.

The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority makes awards in accordance with the provisions set out in the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

From 1964 to 1979 the scheme did not allow compensation to be awarded where the offender and victim lived in the same household as members of the same family.

This was changed in 1979 but was not made retrospective, so even today a victim can not receive compensation in these circumstances if the offence took place before October 1979.

The Ministry of Justice told the Evening Post there were no plans to review the rule but said it would keep “an open mind” about it. For the type of abuse Robert suffered, he could have received between £2,000 and £3,000, according to guidance, had the offences been inside the cut-off date.