'I suffered years of brutality - then long wait for £1,000 compensation'

A WOMAN who suffered years of brutal violence at the hands of her former husband has spoken for the first time about her torment.

• Anita Clark at yesterday's Edinburgh launch of the Victim Support Scotland campaign for swifter compensation. Pictures: Jane Barlow

Anita Clark, whose former husband Michael Thomas was released from prison earlier this month, is backing a campaign for swifter compensation for victims of crime. She received 1,000 but had to wait two years for the money.

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The Victim Support Scotland campaign is also being supported by Magdeline Makola, a nurse who was locked in the boot of a car for 10 days while her kidnapper went on a spending spree with her credit cards. She is still fighting for compensation almost two years later, having received 3,000 so far.

Victim Support Scotland wants the Scottish Government to pay victims compensation on behalf of criminals - a cost of about 25 million a year - and then claim the money back from the offenders.

Ms Clark, a mother of three from Lanarkshire, said: "At the time it was never really about the money. But it would have alleviated some problems, rather than having to worry about that as well."

She lives in constant fear of Thomas tracking her down and has moved five times to try to escape him.

The couple met in 2001 and married a year later, but the relationship soon deteriorated. Ms Clark, 32, said: "He had been violent once before we got married. He knocked me out by punching me in the face. I thought it was a one-off.

"We married soon after and he became extremely violent and controlling. He shot me with a pellet gun - he thought it was funny - and then wouldn't let me go to hospital.

• Case study: Nurse kept in car boot for 10 days joins campaign

"He pulled me through the house by my hair. He broke several toes and smashed a bone in my jaw. He burst my waters when I was pregnant with his daughter. He used to strangle me until I passed out."

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Offenders with limited incomes pay compensation at a rate of as little as 50p or 1 a week, which means payments can take months or even years.

David McKenna, chief executive of Victim Support Scotland, said: "We want a radical overhaul of victims' compensation in Scotland so that it's fit for purpose and fit for victims of crime.

"We want the state to provide compensation up front and then be responsible for collecting it from the offender."

John Lamont, Scottish Conservative justice spokesman, said: "I think it has a lot of merit. We would need to look carefully at how we would fund it but I am sure there are ways."

Richard Baker, Scottish Labour justice spokesman, added: "In principle we support this, but like all parties we would need to look at the cost implications."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "The Scottish Government is currently consulting stakeholders on a new framework for action for victims.The Scottish Government will then determine its priorities for enhancing services to victims, which will take into account any proposals made by stakeholders."