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Susan Couch gets $300,000 settlement

Thursday 6 Dec 2012 5:35 p.m.

Eleven years after Susan Couch was left with brain damage in an attack which killed three others, she is getting a $300,000 settlement from the Department of Corrections.

It will be exactly 11 years this Saturday since William Bell walked into the Panmure RSA where Ms Couch worked part time.

Bell was later sentenced to 30 years non-parole, the longest custodial sentence in New Zealand history.

Bell was on probation and was supposedly being monitored when he carried out the act, which is why six years ago Ms Couch decided to sue the Department of Corrections for $500,000.

Ms Couch, her lawyer Brian Henry and Department of Corrections chief executive Ray Smith spoke to Campbell Live this evening, where the settlement amount was announced. Ms Couch says she has mixed emotions over the settlement.

“I’m exhausted… I’m kind of over it right now, it’s been nearly 11 years of Government departments which will still continue after the settlement.

“I’m kind of looking at it as the closest to an apology I’ll get.”

Mr Henry says the payment is a settlement, not compensation.

“The payment is $300,000,” Mr Henry says. “That represents $10,000 for 30 years, she’s had 11 years now, she lives another 20. It’s not compensation, it’s the settlement of a claim for punitive damages and we’re very grateful for Ray intervening and short-circuiting things.”

Mr Henry had been working for Ms Couch on a pro bono basis, but despite this achievement he says the battle is not over, and they are aiming for $10 million.

“It’s not the end of the battle, it’s just the start of a different battle. We still need to get proper compensation. In terms of negligent actions, proper compensation is around the $10 million figure.”

Watch the video for the full interviews.

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