Carl Murphy, 18, was recently awarded a L567,000 payout (about $1.1 million) in a liability suit for injuries suffered nine years ago when he fell through the roof of a warehouse in Bootle, England, near Liverpool.
Some local newspapers reported only that Murphy “had been trespassing on the property” while others added that he “fell through a skylight while attempting to break into the warehouse.” The latter reporting might well add to Murphy’s jackpot by way of a libel suit for defamation of character, since it’s likely to be difficult to prove that Murphy was trying to pull off a break-in rather than just attempting to take the shortest route between two points, i.e., a course of up the wall of the building, across the roof, and then down the other wall.
A fence surrounded the warehouse, but Murphy’s lawyers successfully argued that the fence wasn’t in full repair, thereby permitting a too-easy entry to the property.
As a result of the fall, Murphy, who has prior convictions for burglary, robbery and assault, has 17 steel plates in his head, is partially blind in one eye, and claims to suffer from behavioral problems that have produced expulsions from two schools.
Boasting about his new-found wealth in his first public interview after the award, Murphy said he was going to buy “a few houses and a flash car” and was unconcerned about the negative response from the public.
“I deserve this money and I don’t care what anyone says about me,” Murphy stated. “I’m going to buy a big house so I have a place to live with me mum when she gets out of jail.” Mum is behind bars for three years for selling crack and heroin.
Continued Murphy: “I might buy a few houses. I’ll buy whatever I want. The papers call me a yob and a thug because I’ve been done for robbery and assault but those were just silly stupid little things, like.”
The payout to Murphy, reports Peter Zimonjic in London’s Daily Telegraph, has been criticized by those who point out that crime victims receive far less under the government’s criminal injuries compensation system, “The parents of James Bulger received just L7,500 following his murder,” Zimonjic explains, “and the family of Damilola Taylor received L10,000 following his murder,” i.e., for murder, these families received less than 2 percent of what Murphy was awarded.
Zimonjic reports that residents of Bootle, where Murphy lives, are fearful of speaking publicly about the case but that privately they describe him as the “king yob” in the area. “He shaves his head so we can all see the scars,” said one. “He likes to walk around and play the big man. I’ve seen him yelling abuse at the shopkeepers, telling them how he is going to buy the shop with his compensation money and throw them out. He is a villain around here. Everybody knows him but no one wants to confront him. He has a big family and they all stand up for each other.”
Murphy’s response: “I want to spend my money the way I want without people interfering and I want to have a prosperous future. I want to take my mates to Liverpool games and get a flash car. The money is mine now and I’ll do what I want. I don’t care what they have to say about it. It annoys me that people think I don’t deserve this money after all I’ve been through. I’m going to spend my money on whatever I want and everyone who called me ‘Tin Head’ can go get stuffed.”
In other victim news, John Leo reports in U.S. News & World Report that the Toronto District School Board has declared Halloween witch costumes to be a violation of “equitable school policies.” Children of witches might suffer “traumatic shock,” said the board, if children of non-witches treat “the Christian sexist demonization of pagan religious beliefs as ‘fun.'”
Along the same lines, sensitive British offices are ridding their offices of piggy banks, lest British Muslims find offense. “Novelty pig calendars, toys, and even a tissue boxes featuring Winnie the Pooh and Piglet,” reports Leo, “have been banned in the benefits department at Dudley Council, West Midlands, out of deference to Muslim sensibilities.”
Still, my two favorites remain (a) the church lady straight out of small-town America who swore she was transformed into a nymphomaniac, a 50-times-per-week sex machine, after being joggled around during a San Francisco cable car accident and (b) the 27-year-old Michigan guy, previously happily married, who swore he turned gay after being rear-ended by a pick-up truck.
As it turned out, the woman in the cable car was awarded $50,000 by a California Superior Court jury, the man who switched gears got $200,000, and, just to make things more whole all around, the switched guy’s ex-wife was awarded $25,000.