The abuse survivor of disgraced Launceston art collector and paedophile has today received record compensation in the Tasmanian Supreme Court.
Chief Justice Allan Blow AO ruled on Wednesday about 11am that the survivor of convicted paedophile John Wayne Millwood was entitled to $5.3 million in damages after being subjected to prolonged child sexual abuse.
Following the decision the survivor said he felt the decision and compensation, which was believed to be the highest amount awarded in Tasmanian history, was vindication.
But he said his persistence through the ongoing legal battle was never just about money.
"This judgment tears through decades of Millwood's lies, persecution, and underhand dealings intended to discredit and intimidate me into silence," he said.
"But as he bullied me both before and during the legal process, as he spread offensive slurs and mired himself in deceit, the more clear-eyed I became: I saw this as a moral and ethical battle, not just a legal one."
The ruling followed a decision by the Attorney-General Matthew Groom to abolish the statute of limitations in relation to child abuse claims.
"This judgment recognises the life-long impact of child sexual abuse. It recognises that this impact is felt in every facet of life, directly causes physical and psychological injury, and has negative long-term economic consequences," the survivor said.
"I am hopeful it will become an oft-cited precedent, paving the way for future claims against paedophiles and the institutions that harbour them. I am very proud of what my legal team has achieved. This is a victory for all child abuse survivors."
In a statement of defence Millwood lodged with the Supreme Court he argued the survivor had consented to, and initiates, a sexual relationship.
The survivor told the court he, as a 10-year-old, could not consent to the relationship.
"Such an offensive defence should never have been legitimised or submitted as a formal statement of defence by the defendant's legal representatives," the survivor's representation Dr Matthew Collins AM QC told the court at trial.
Millwood, who was once the boss of Launceston Pathology, was convicted of molesting a young boy between 1983 and 1989.
The court heard in 2016 he fondled the survivor's penis and testicles on five separate occasions.
On one occasion, Millwood wanted to show the boy how to get an erection.
Millwood initially pleaded not guilty to the crime in 2015, but changed his plea in 2016.
Millwood received a four-year jail term for the abuse on December 7, 2016.
Following Millwood's sentencing his name, which had once been synonymous with the Launceston arts scene, was removed from several buildings around the north of Tasmania, and from an award that carried his name.
Dr Collins told the Supreme Court on July 26 the abuse perpetrated by Millwood was "gravely criminal an involved a high degree of moral culpability".
"It extended over a six-year period at the most vulnerable time in [the survivors] childhood," he said.
The lack of remorse is a striking feature of this case. The failure to admit liability - and maintenance of an aggressive defence - was reprehensible.- Dr Matthew Collins AM QC
Millwood had, in an assessment by a clinical psychologist for a parle board decision, said the public concern around child sex abuse was the "flavour of the month".
The parole board summarised from the assessment Millwood had a high risk of reoffending and that he continued to deny the "extent and nature of his offending", "his behaviour is consistent with a diagnosis paedophilic disorder" and "his personality style could be described as pathological and narcissistic".
Beyond Abuse founder, and a survivor of child sexual abuse, Steve Fisher, said Wednesday morning's result was "amazing" and was an example the decision to change the statute of limitations was the right one.
Nothing will change what happened and change the psychological effect, but at least now we are seeing payouts that are commensurate with what judges can tell the survivors have lost.- Beyond Abuse founder Steve Fisher
"Survivors are finally getting the amount they deserve. This is another victory for survivors, it's fantastic news, and just great to see.
"If survivors can't or don't get the sentence they deserve, it's nice to see them got some kind of recompense and recognition for what was perpetrated against them."
Mr Fisher said he hoped the $5.3 million figure would act as a deterrent to future potential offenders.
"These sorts of figures weren't around in the past so they never had any thought that it would cost them millions of dollars, but let's hope when a paedophile goes to abuse a child they think about what it could cost them dollar-wise," he said.
"That's sometimes the only thing sex offenders care about."
The previous highest settlement was believed to have come following a decision by the Tasmanian Government to settle with six victims of notorious paedophile teacher Anthony LeClerc for a total of $5.32 million.
The highest individual payment in that settlement was $1.4 million.
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