Grieving Family of Missing Man Receive Pay Out

 In Missing People, Ridley & Hall Solicitors, Sarah Young

A grieving South Wales family has won a battle to have a cash sum paid to them by their missing son’s employers. Kyle Vaughan, 24, went missing following a car accident on 30th December 2012.  His parents, Alan Vaughan and Mary Lucas who live in Newport, South Wales have been living through a nightmare, looking for answers, ever since.

The missing person enquiry quickly became a murder investigation and over the last 5 years, 4 arrests were made by Gwent police – but no prosecutions followed due to lack of evidence. Despite widespread publicity there still remains no clue as to where Kyle’s body could be.

His father Alan has no doubt that his son would have been in touch with them if he were alive. Kyle had diabetes and lived at home with his parents. He worked as a technical operative for Unilever and in his spare time, was a rock music fan, known to his many friends as Jabbers. His family describe him as a “larger than life, fun loving young man” who was close to his family and rang his mother, Mary every day.

To add to the family’s pain, Mary was diagnosed with liver cancer in 2013 and her illness is now terminal; Alan had to reduce his working hours and financially life became very difficult. They discovered that Kyle, through his employers, had a pension policy that might make a payment to his next of kin if he were declared to have died.

The company, Unilever would not confirm or deny that a payment would be made or if so what amount would be payable. Alan contacted the charity Missing People who had provided emotional support and advice to him and through them contacted Sarah Young, a solicitor with Ridley & Hall in Huddersfield who specialises in cases involving missing people.

Sarah says:

“As soon as I spoke to Alan in May 2016 I could tell that he was a man under enormous pressure, so I got on a train as soon as I could and went down to Newport to meet with him and Mary. They were sure that Kyle had been murdered and were deeply frustrated and upset that no one has been charged or convicted.

They still held out hope that Kyle’s body would be found, but asked me if I could help them to obtain a declaration of death so that they could try to get a payout from Unilever. Alan’s only hope was that the money could be used to make the end of Mary’s life as comfortable as possible.”

She adds:

“Families who need to resolve the financial and legal issues that follow a disappearance need expert advice – this is a really unusual area of law and very few solicitors are aware, for example, that you don’t need to wait 7 years after someone has gone missing to seek a declaration. I act for families throughout England & Wales.”

The Presumption of Death Act 2013 enables a declaration of presumed death to be made by the High Court, when an adult has gone missing and is believed to have died. The Court requires evidence from the police, family and friends as well as disclosure of the missing person’s financial information to reach a decision. The declaration was made on 6th October 2016 but it was only on 8th March 2017 that Unilever finally made a payment to Alan Vaughan, who says;

“It’s been more than 4 years since we lost Kyle, but his mother and I still miss him more than I can say. The money from Unilever doesn’t make the pain any less, but I know that Kyle would have wanted us to have it and to spend it on making his mum’s life now as comfortable as possible.

I’m so glad that Sarah was willing to take the case on, as otherwise there was no way that we could have got this money.”

Data published this week by the National Crime Agency reveals that more than 350,000 missing person calls were made to the police in 2015/6. More than 79% of missing people return within 24 hours, but some, like Kyle are never found, leaving their families devastated and in a limbo.