A Grantham woman who was permanently disabled by serial killer Beverley Allitt has been told she must pay back £23,500 in benefits.
Kayley Asher suffered permanent injuries when she was targeted by Allitt, a nurse, in Grantham Hospital in 1991. She was awarded damages of £11,500 and later granted £120 a week in disability benefits.
The Department for Work and Pensions has now cut off those benefits and demanded she repay the money because they say she has more than £16,000 in savings as a result of the compensation and interest paid on it.
But Kayley’s parents Alan and Sharon say they will appeal against the demand. Alan Asher told the Journal yesterday he had 10 days to appeal.
Mr Asher said: “I am disgusted. Poor Kayley thinks somebody has taken her money. It is hard to explain to her what is happening.”
He added: “We have never made a secret of Kayley’s money so why have the DWP waited all this time to send this demand?”
Mr Asher, a former Mayor of Grantham who runs the Community Bookshop in Welby Street, said the original compensation had been put away in a bank to gain interest. The account is now about £25,000. He said litle of the money has been spent as it was being kept for Kayley’s future. The family had spent some of the money on a ‘chill-out’ bedroom all in pink for Kayley.
Mr Asher said: “We cannot understand how this has all come about. We are not going to pay back a penny. If we end up in prison then that is what will happen. We think it is wrong that Kayley is the victim of a murderer who is now living a life of luxury. Here is Kayley struggling and the DWP wants to make it worse for her.”
Mr Asher and his wife fostered Kayley and her sister in 1992 and later adopted them in 1998. He says he needs documentation on the ruling which will prove that Kayley’s compensation was ringfenced so it could not affect any benefits she may get.
Kayley was awarded the compensation after Allitt was convicted of causing her grievous bodily harm with intent. It is believed Allitt injected Kayley with air into her armpit, causing a heart attack. Doctors said Kayley may never walk or talk but she did make a recovery.
Mr Asher said the money was even more important to Kayley following an operation to replace her hip in 2012 during which she technically died when her heart stopped, causing brain damage.
Kayley’s plight has been taken up by family friend Helen Parry who has set up a petition at www.change.org The petition currently has 1439 supporters who want the DWP’s decision reversed.
Allitt was convicted of murdering four children, attempting to murder three other children, and causing grievous bodily harm to a further six children.
A spokesman for the DWP said: “Income-related Employment and Support Allowance takes into account all of a claimant’s available capital. This is to ensure that support is targeted at the people who need it most.”