Susan Couch to receive payout
Wednesday 5 Dec 2012 5:32 p.m.
3 News has learned the sole survivor of the Mount Wellington RSA killings is about to receive a large payout.
Susan Couch was left for dead by William Bell, who was on parole when he carried out the 2001 attack.
Ms Couch's lengthy battle with the Department of Corrections will end tomorrow in what could be a landmark case.
Ms Couch has had a long recovery after Bell left for her dead and her fight with Corrections has also dragged on, until now.
“I think it would be a nice Christmas present for her and her family if we manage to reach a settlement,” says Corrections Minister Anne Tolley.
Ms Couch began legal action six years ago. Bell was supposedly being monitored by a probation officer when he attacked and robbed the RSA, killing three, with Ms Couch the only survivor.
Ms Couch's lawyers say "this is dereliction of duty in the extreme by the Probation Service, whose probation officer was without doubt so far out of control”.
After initially saying the case was complex and novel, Corrections has backed down. Chief executive Ray Smith confirmed they're negotiating with Ms Couch and her lawyers.
“I initiated discussions to achieve an outcome that I believe will be the right thing for Susan and her family,” says Mr Smith. “This is expected to be completed by tomorrow evening.”
“It is a long time and it's been very hard for her and her family,” says Ms Tolley. “She's battled her way through the courts and I don't think anyone would think she's had a great experience.”
Ms Couch wanted $500,000 in damages, but Corrections won't reveal figures. Neither Ms Couch nor her lawyer, Brian Henry, could be contacted.
Ms Couch's case could set a precedent for others attacked by parolees. A source familiar with the case said it was a first and ground-breaking.