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The BBC's Rebecca Jones
"Her face is scarred, she has metal plates in her mouth"
 real 56k

Friday, 26 January, 2001, 12:11 GMT
Machete girl decision delayed
Francesca Quintyne
Francesca has a thick scar across her jaw
A girl claiming for more compensation after being badly scarred in a school machete attack has had the judgment on her case reserved by an appeals panel.

Francesca Quintyne, of Tipton, was one of four children and three adults injured when a paranoid schizophrenic attacked them at St Luke's School in Blakenhall, Wolverhampton, in July 1996.

She should have freedom to choose the treatment that's best for her

Tom Jones, solicitor

The youngster, now aged eight, was left with permanent psychological damage after being slashed in the face, Cherie Booth QC told the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals panel on Friday.

Ms Booth is calling on the panel to raise the compensation payout tenfold - to 80,000 - the maximum possible.

The panel later said it was reserving judgment while it made further deliberations.

Tom Jones of Thompsons Solicitors, representing Francesca, said it was "disappointing" they would have to wait for a decision.

He added that there was a dispute over the permanence of the injuries suffered by the girl.

Francesca received just 8,100 for her injuries despite suffering from persistent flashbacks and nightmares following the frenzied attack at a children's teddy bears' picnic, Ms Booth earlier told the panel, sitting in private.

Lisa Potts, the nursery nurse hailed a heroine for trying to shield the 18 children at the party, attended the central London hearing to give "moral support" to the girl's mother, Sheridon Quintyne.

Stress disorder

During the attack, Francesca's face was slashed from the left hand side of her mouth to her earlobe and the force of the blow fractured her jaw.

Child Psychiatry expert Professor William Yule, from the Institute of Psychiatry, told the four-person panel that the girl is suffering from permanent Post Traumatic Stress disorder which will need on-going treatment.
Lisa Potts
Lisa Potts: Injured while protecting the children

She could also need extensive plastic and reconstructive surgery to try to reduce scarring.

Ms Booth said there should first be an award of 20,000 for Francesca's psychological damage and secondly further funds to ensure she can have private health care.

The Prime Minister's wife became involved in the case after meeting Francesca two years ago.

Compensation tariff 'unfair'

Mr Jones said: "She should have freedom to choose the treatment that's best for her when she needs it most, rather than rely on the vagaries of the NHS."

The legal team, are calling for the government to scrap the compensation tariff system because they say it is unfair and penalises the innocent victims of crime.

After the attack in 1996, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority granted Francesca 7,500 for "serious facial disfigurement" and a 300 for a completely shattered jawbone and 150 for "significant head scarring".

Applications for a review was lodged in September 1997 and the award was increased on review in January 2000 to 8,100.

Horrett Campbell, a local man with a history of mental health problems who lived in a tower block near the school, was ordered to be detained indefinitely in a secure hospital after being found guilty of attempted murder by a jury at Stafford Crown Court.

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