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Former care home boy gets £35k after a lifelong mix-up over real mother

By Alan Erwin

Published 20/10/2015

A former care home resident who was only reunited with his mother shortly before she died due to a childhood identity mix-up is to receive £35,000 in damages
A former care home resident who was only reunited with his mother shortly before she died due to a childhood identity mix-up is to receive £35,000 in damages

A former care home resident who was only reunited with his mother shortly before she died due to a childhood identity mix-up is to receive £35,000 in damages.

The 64-year-old man settled a negligence claim brought against the Sisters of Nazareth for having lived most of his life unaware of his true background.

Another ex-resident of the home in Londonderry who grew up using his name previously received a £25,000 payout.

A lawyer who represented both men said that it was among the most tragic cases he has ever encountered.

The plaintiff in the latest High Court action has learning difficulties and is not being identified.

He was taken into the home at a young age in the early 1950s because his mother, then a teenager, was not allowed to keep him.

But according to solicitor Brian Archer, his identity was then mixed up with the other boy who had the same surname.

Mr Archer said the pair became known by each other's names, with the mother intermittently seeing the wrong child throughout his early years.

It was only around 2008 when he tried to renew contact with her that the mistake was discovered, the lawyer explained.

Letters and photographs were exchanged before the woman realised the man was not her son.

Following confirmation through DNA testing, a check of care home records revealed another child with the same surname had been there at the same time.

The woman sought him out, and they finally met in 2009. Around a year later she died of natural causes.

Both men have now gone through a process of changing passports and identity documents. They issued separate claims for damages which have now both been resolved without any formal admission of liability.

The man who wrongly believed he was the woman's son reached a compromise settlement for £25,000 more than a year ago due to concerns about his serious ill health, his lawyer said.

In court last week, judgment was entered for the other plaintiff in the sum of £35,000 plus costs to be agreed.

Mr Archer said: "This is one of the most tragic cases I have dealt with in over 20 years as a solicitor.

"Both these men have losses which can never be compensated by any amount of money."

He added: "They have both lost their families, they have both grown up not knowing who they are and they have only realised that in the latter part of their lives."

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