10 Oct 2012

Lawyer says RSA victim deserves more resources

7:22 pm on 10 October 2012

A lawyer who represented the family of a man killed by a paroled murderer says Susan Couch should be given more resources to fight her damages claim against the Department of Corrections.

Ms Couch is suing the department for $500,000 after she was gravely injured during the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA attack in 2001 in which William Bell also killed three other people while on parole.

Documents released under the Official Information Act show that Crown Law has so far spent $423,759.43 (excluding GST) fighting Ms Couch's legal action.

The figure includes hearings in the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court, and sourcing documents at Ms Couch's request.

Nikki Pender, who represented the families of Karl Kuchenbecker who was murdered by Graeme Burton in 2007, says the amount does seem daft, and the victim does not have the same resources as the Crown.

"If these unfortunate cases happen and they run the risk of being a precedent ... all these other issues that you never expect to be raised are raised, then those parties need to have some sort of compensation for that. They're basically being guinea pigs in a legal science lab."

Ms Pender says Susan Couch is brave and courageous for continuing with the case.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust says it is horrified by the amount Crown Law has paid to fight the case. Spokesperson Garth McVicar says the final costs will end up exceeding what Ms Couch is claiming - and that is appalling.