UK

Homeless family 'can't use £500,000 trust fund'

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Media captionCourtney says she wants to live with her mother, as they are "peas in a pod"

A woman awarded £500,000 after being left with severe physical and mental disabilities is homeless after her mother was barred from buying them a home with the money.

Courtney Boden was attacked by her father as a baby and given compensation in 2007 to support her.

But the government's official solicitor has said her mother, Beverley Neal, who cares for her, cannot benefit from it.

The Ministry of Justice said it had "every sympathy" for Ms Boden.

'It's just wrong'

Ms Neal, from Burnley, told the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire programme she was "devastated".

"I have been caring for Courtney from the start," she said.

"We just want a house with three bedrooms so I can carry on looking after Courtney for the rest of our lives and there's room for a respite carer to stay sometimes.

"It's just wrong. Courtney shouldn't have to live like this."

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Courtney Boden was awarded £500,000 compensation in 2007

Ms Boden, now aged 20, is paralysed down her right-hand side, severely brain damaged and needs someone to look after her every day.

She was awarded the compensation by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority to safeguard her welfare.

But a judge ruled Ms Neal had failed to protect her - because at first she had not believed her ex-partner had been responsible for her daughter's injuries and had tried to hide the fact she had still been in touch with him.

Now, the government's official solicitor - who is in charge of deciding what Ms Boden can spend her trust fund on - has said the money cannot be used to buy a home for the mother and daughter to live in together.

Ms Neal admits she was initially reluctant to believe her ex-partner had been responsible for her daughter's injuries - which included broken bones in her arms and legs, broken ribs and a fracture of the skull at four months old.

But she said she had "cleared my name since then and they should be recognising it".

She added that action needed to be taken to change the restrictions surrounding the compensation.

"Courtney's already suffered, and now we're being punished again.

"Surely they can see what a life she's already had, and what Courtney wants."

Image copyright Family photo

'An awful case'

The official solicitor and the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority said they would not comment in detail on an individual case.

The Ministry of Justice said on their behalf: "This was an awful case and we have every sympathy for what Courtney has been through.

"The official solicitor can act as a trustee of funds for vulnerable victims - typically where there is no-one suitable to take on responsibility themselves.

"A trustee will allow a carer access to a fund to ensure daily expenses related to the welfare of a victim can be met.

"It is their duty to administer trusts in a lawful manner and in accordance with the terms of the compensation settlement."

Regarding the family's housing situation, Pendle Borough Council said it had "been trying to find the right accommodation for [them] but it has been very difficult".

"We will continue to provide support as she [Ms Neal] tries to find suitable rehousing," it said.

"We are happy to look at the option of adapting a property to meet her needs through Pendle Council's disabled facilities grant."

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