Victims of serial paedophile Dennis McKenna are seeking legal aid to launch a lawsuit against the State Government for compensation which could run into millions of dollars.
Five men have lodged applications so far, lawyer John Hammond said, but the Albany Advertiser understands there could be up to eight applicants.
“The victims wish to sue the State Government because they believe the compensation is paltry and doesn’t recognise the harm they’ve suffered whilst being cared for by the State,” Mr Hammond said.
The civil claim would be for pain and suffering while in the care of the St Andrew’s Hostel and Mckenna, loss of opportunities and psychological impact.
The Advertiser understands the combined total for the civil claims, if successful, could be worth millions of dollars, significantly more than the ex-gratia payment capped at $45,000 offered by the State Government.
Victim and whistle-blower Todd Jefferis, whose testimony helped reveal the shocking extent of McKenna’s crimes, said he’d received advice ex-gratia payments for some victims may be as low as $5000. “I’d be absolutely gutted, I’d be destroyed for some of these lads if they were offered $5000; that would be a severe slap in the face, considering what they have been through and the courage they have shown,” Mr Jefferis said.
The State Government opened applications for ex-gratia payments to victims of abuse in November.
“It’s not about trying to get as much money as you can, no amount of money is going to replace a childhood,” victim Kim Daniels said. “It’s about some kind of acknowledgement.”
The lifelong legacy of McKenna’s abuse has meant many have battled to hold down a regular job, former boarder Mike Hilder said.
“There are other people who have struggled so much throughout their life because of what this person has done to them. Through no fault of their own they’ve had this life ... they need help,” he said.
Victims expressed disgust at the time it has taken for the ex-gratia scheme to be implemented.
“It’s only a small group seeking compensation. They’ve been through so much and no one’s listening. There’s still no one listening,” Mr Hilder said.
Premier Colin Barnett would not be drawn on the possibility of any out-of-court settlement.
“No comment or commitment in relation to a prospective claim can be given until it has been sighted and fully considered,” he said in an emailed statement.
McKenna, who is serving a six-year jail term, is due to be sentenced on more than 30 new charges of child sex offences on Monday.