Six-figure damages for man abused by 'prolific paedophile'

A man who was sexually abused by a ‘prolific paedophile’ was today (3rd Dec) awarded six-figure damages against his abuser at Southampton County Court.

However, Goad refused to plead guilty to the charges of abuse against Ray Zolla, and as a result the charges were ordered to lie on the file. After the trial, whilst pleased that Mr Goad would not harm any more boys, Ray still needed justice for what had happened to him. He was granted legal aid1 and in July 2008 took the unusual step of issuing civil proceedings against Goad.

Her Honour Judge Linda Sullivan QC exercised her discretion to allow the case to proceed in spite of the primary limitation period having expired many years ago2 and during the trial at Winchester County Court in September 2010, Ray bravely faced his abuser, who represented himself. The Attorney General had appointed Treasury Counsel to cross examine Ray on behalf of Goad, the first civil claim where this has happened.

The judge found against Goad, and ruled that his horrific abuse of Ray was of an exceptional nature. She awarded extra (aggravated) damages to Ray on the grounds that “the Claimant was forced to procure other boys for the Defendant to abuse and so suffers exceptional guilt in respect of this; the fact that the Defendant refused to plead guilty to offences relating to the Claimant and the sneering, abusive and offensive comments the Defendants has made about the Claimant in correspondence.”

The exact amount of the damages award has not been disclosed, but is a six-figure sum.

Ray Zolla made the following statement:-

“I am thrilled with the outcome. I want to thank the Legal Services Commission for believing in me and funding my case which has given me a life changing court ruling finally acknowledging what the Defendant did to me. I have had a difficult and painful battle over many years to get what I have achieved today.  At times I was dismayed and sickened at the spiteful way that the Defendant conducted himself in the proceedings. It was really hard for me to be in the same room as him at trial. I could not bear to look at him.

“I would like to thank my legal team for all their work on my case, and especially DC Thompson from Devon and Cornwall police for giving evidence against the Defendant. I would also like to thank the Attorney General’s office for appointing counsel to cross examine me on behalf of the Defendant as it would have felt like being violated all over again to have had to answer to him.

“I hope that this case inspires other victims of abuse to stay strong and to keep fighting for justice.”

His solicitor, Kate Maynard, added:-
“It is shocking that such an aggressive paedophile was able prey on and destroy the lives of so many vulnerable children for so many years in such a small community.

“Ray has done what no other of the Defendant’s victims has had to do and bravely faced his abuser in court.  The judge listened carefully to all the evidence and handed down a powerful judgment concluding that Ray was telling the truth and that the Defendant was lying. Before trial, the Defendant wrote scornful and abusive letters to me almost daily, insisting that my client be arrested for telling lies. Today, the Defendant remains in prison serving a life sentence and Ray now has the boost that he has been fighting for which I am confident will enable him to finally come to terms with his past and make a success of his future.

“The next challenge is to locate the money that the Defendant hid when he was on the run from the police, so that Ray can pay the Legal Services Commission back for his legal costs and recover the damages that the court has awarded to him.”

A Legal Services Commission spokesperson said:-

“The LSC is very pleased that legal aid was able to help Mr Zolla achieve justice. We hope this judgment will help him to change his life for the better and we wish him well for the future.”

For more information please contact:
Kate Maynard, Partner, Hickman and Rose
Telephone: 00 44 (0)7812 974613

NOTES

1.      The Legal Services Commission administers and commissions legal aid in England and Wales. For further information or comment, please contact Press Officer Andrew Montgomery, Tel: 020 7783 7218 (Internal ext: 2218) or 020 3334 3534 Email: andrew.montgomery@legalservices.gsi.gov.uk .

2.      The primary limitation period (the time within which the claimant must issue proceedings) is three years once the claimant reaches the age of 18, but the judge has discretion to waive the limitation period if it would be equitable to do so. Prior to the ruling of the House of Lords in A v Hoare [2008] 1 AC 844, the limitation period was six years with no discretion to disapply it.  

3.      Hickman & Rose is a niche city firm with a criminal defence team and civil department. The civil team is renowned for its work in seeking public and private law remedies in the UK and other jurisdictions on behalf of victims of crime and other victims of the abuse of power by state agents within the criminal justice system.  Chambers 2010 UK Guide to the Legal Profession describes the civil department as ‘a fantastic team – one of the best’. The combined resources of the civil and criminal defence teams position the firm uniquely to fight for justice on behalf of their clients in all arenas. 

RAY’S STORY - FURTHER BACKGROUND

In the late 1970s, when Ray was a young vulnerable teenager, he was sexually abused and raped by William Goad, a Plymouth market trader who later became a millionaire businessman. 

As many victims of abuse tend to do, Ray kept silent about the abuse for nearly 20 years. During his childhood, unable to come to terms with what had happened to him, Ray numbed himself with drink and drugs and descended into crime. 

In 1995, Ray engaged with drugs counselling, and began to disclose the horrors of what he had been subjected to. This was the first step on his road to recovery and to seeking justice against his abuser.  

Goad was prosecuted in 2004, and he pleaded guilty to paedophile offences concerning 14 boys, but he refused to plead guilty to abusing Ray. Ray believes that this was purely vindictive because he was one of the first whistleblowers, and the offences concerning Ray were the most serious. 

The Crown accepted the guilty pleas and the charges relating to Ray were ordered to lie on file. The judge sentencing Mr Goad to 14 concurrent life sentences described him as “a voracious, calculating and predatory paedophile over the past 40 years who has corrupted generations of boys aged between 8 and 16 years”.   

After the trial, whilst pleased that Mr Goad would not harm any more boys, Ray felt that he still needed to bring Mr Goad to account for what had happened to him, and to obtain redress. He was granted legal aid1 and issued civil proceedings against Mr Goad on 1 July 2008.

At a trial in Winchester County Court in September 2010, Ray bravely faced his abuser who represented himself. Exceptionally, the Attorney General appointed Treasury Counsel to cross examine Ray on behalf of Mr Goad, the first civil claim where this has happened.

The judge exercised her discretion to allow the case to proceed in spite of the primary limitation period having expired many years ago.2

As well as his own harrowing testimony, Ray relied on evidence of similar fact in the details of abuse given by other victims of Mr Goad, which the judge held were strikingly similar.  A child protection officer involved in the criminal investigation of offences committed by Mr Goad (and others in his paedophile ring) was summonsed and gave evidence at trial.

Mr Goad denied abusing Ray but gave evidence about “going out with” 12 year old boys and passing them to his fellow abusers. He admitted that he was attracted to blonde boys between 13 and 16 years old and that he could not remember all the boys that he had abused.

In giving judgment on liability in Ray’s favour, the judge concluded that “I am satisfied that the Claimant is telling the truth about the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of the Defendant. I accept as truthful and reliable the other evidence called on the Claimant’s behalf.… I find the specific and general allegations proved. I do not accept the Defendant’s evidence as truthful in respect of the denial of such abuse.”

The judge accepted that Mr Goad’s abuse had caused Ray to develop post-traumatic stress disorder, “which was a material contributor to the substance dependency and chaos in his adult life and convictions in the criminal courts”. She acknowledged “positive signs that he is taking back responsibility for his life.”

The judge found the abuse by Mr Goad to be exceptional, and awarded extra (aggravated) damages on the grounds that “the Claimant was forced to procure other boys for the Defendant to abuse and so suffers exceptional guilt in respect of this; the fact that the Defendant refused to plead guilty to offences relating to the Claimant and the sneering, abusive and offensive comments the Defendants has made about the Claimant in correspondence.”