Landmark payout for Susan Couch
Thursday 6 Dec 2012 6:57 p.m.
Details of a landmark payout for the sole survivor of the 2001 RSA murders are expected to be released in the next hour.
Susan Couch fought a long legal battle with corrections over their handling of William Bell, who was on probation when he wounded Ms Couch and killed three others at the RSA.
Relatives of other victims may now take similar claims.
Tai Hobson, whose wife was killed in the incident, has waited more than a decade for Corrections to own up to their mishandling of William Bell, so he's delighted with Ms Couch's success.
“She been struggling all those years now, things have come to a head I'm very happy for her,” says Mr Hobson.
Bell murdered Mr Hobson's wife Mary, together with Bill Absolum and Wayne Johnson, and viciously beat Ms Couch - while he was supposedly being monitored by probation officers.
Mr Hobson took an unsuccessful case against Corrections and Ms Couch then took her own case in 2005. Mr Hobson's now considering another claim.
“For the whole family's sake I would like to. It wasn't just me that suffered.”
The Sensible Sentencing Trust says Corrections may face other claims over failures to monitor violent parolees.
“Legally it's a big deal, but for the safety of the public I think it's an even bigger deal...[It's] fantastic, we've been battling for years,” says the trust’s Garth McVicar.
Ms Couch's civil damages case is thought to the first of its type since the ACC scheme ended the right to sue in the 1970s.
“Legally it sets a precedent," says Mr McVicar. "This case has already been making history around the world, in universities about what victims can do if they have the courage to challenge the system."
Mr McVicar says Corrections will have to take extra care with violent offenders on parole because if something goes wrong, they can now be held accountable.