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One of the hardest things to cope with is the time it's taken to deal with my case';Personal finance

Derek Poxton has been waiting two-and-a-half years for compensation after a violent attack by two pupils left him severely depressed and unable to work.

"One of the hardest things to cope with is the length of time it's taken the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board to deal with my case," he says. "I often think about it and wonder what stage has been reached. It makes it very difficult for me to make a fresh start."

Mr Poxton, who had taught for 23 years, was working at a community home for youngsters with emotional and behavioural difficulties in Sunderland when he was assaulted. When he tried to intervene to calm two pupils, one of them threatened him with a broken bottle, while the other gave him a kick to the knee which landed him in hospital.

"Assaults happened fairly regularly, but this was a traumatic experience and I'd come to the end of what I could cope with. I simply couldn't drive to work any more," says Mr Poxton, a member of the National Union of Teachers. He has now taken retirement on the grounds of ill health and receives a pension of about pound;8,000 a year.

Fortunately, he had taken out private medical insurance, linked to an investment plan, a few years before the attack. This scheme now pays him 75 per cent of his original salary. The policy is ideal for teachers who are unable to return to the classroom as it will pay compensation to anyone who cannot follow their chosen profession.

However, Mr Poxton is still pound;7,000 a year worse off than he was before the attack because his incapacity benefit and pension are deducted from the medical insurance payment.

Mr Poxton is married to a teacher and the couple have two teenage children. He has been on several retraining courses and would like to set up his own business, but he still doesn't feel well enough.

"The financial uncertainty is a big problem. It would help to know how much any award would be," he says.

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