Belfast Telegraph

Woman denied payout after ATM robbery loses appeal

By Alan Erwin

A woman robbed at gunpoint at a cash machine has failed in a legal challenge after being denied compensation.

Sharon Wallace issued proceedings after being refused a payout on the basis that she had not suffered a disabling mental illness.

Her lawyers argued that the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel reached the wrong conclusion about how the attack had affected the victim.

But a judge ruled yesterday that the panel was entitled to reach its conclusion based on expert medical opinion.

Ms Wallace was robbed while withdrawing money from an ATM machine at a location - not disclosed in court yesterday - in Northern Ireland in February 2013.

It was accepted that she had been the victim of violence, leading to an exacerbation of an existing illness.

However, her application for compensation was refused on the basis that this did not amount to a disabling mental illness within the terms of the relevant legislation.

Counsel for Ms Wallace contended that the decision was irrational.

A consultant psychiatrist instructed by her legal team concluded that she had an exacerbation of a depressive order in the form of post-traumatic stress symptoms.

In his opinion, she fulfilled the criteria for a disabling mental illness.

However, another consultant psychiatrist brought in by Compensation Services reached a different conclusion.

Based on GP notes, he said there was insufficient evidence to indicate such an illness.

Dismissing the challenge at Belfast High Court yesterday, Lord Justice Gillen said he felt the panel was entitled to come to the view it reached.

"Essentially this is a jury question for the panel, and in my view the panel was perfectly entitled to come to the conclusion which it did," he told the courtroom.

He added: "I find nothing irrational in the conclusion of this panel."

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