Healthcare news

Paralysed man shot by loyalists 40 years ago faces £30,000 bill from health trust for care home place

Pensioner Kevin Rafferty

A VULNERABLE pensioner who was left paralysed after being shot by a loyalist 40 years ago has been hit with a £30,000 bill from the Belfast trust for a place in a care home.

Kevin Rafferty (65) was standing in for a friend working in the city's Smithfield bar when a gunman walked in and shot him through the left eye in June 1978.

Due to a change in his benefits, the wheelchair-bound man said he fell into arrears and was unable to pay for his care in Kilwee home in Dunmurry where he has lived for the past five years.

Mr Rafferty, who is wheelchair bound and requires specialist 24-hour support, said he has never received any funding from victims' groups and wasn't even aware that the Stormont-backed Victims and Survivors Service existed.

In an interview with the BBC, he spoke of the devastating impact of the attack.

He spent almost 19 months in hospital following the shooting but has struggled to cope with the extent of his injuries over the past four decades.

"I was shot through my left eye. The bullet was lodged close to my brain. One side of my face is paralysed, (my) tongue included," he said.

"It affected my speech. For several years I could not even speak."

Mr Rafferty revealed he was facing the threat of legal action from the health trust.

"Initially I was paying the bill no problem, but the past year or two my benefits have drastically changed," he said.

"They are not what I was getting initially with all those cutbacks and all."

The trust told the BBC it does not comment on individual cases but it is understood a resolution is being sought.

Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson said the case illustrated it was time for Westminster to intervene and introduce legislation to allow for victims' pensions.

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