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An Aboriginal man taken from his family as a baby has been awarded more than $500,000 compensation in a South Australian court, a first for a member of the stolen generation.
Bruce Trevorrow was 13 months old in 1957 when a neighbour drove him from his Coorong family home, south-east of Adelaide, to the Children's Hospital on Christmas Day, with stomach pains.
Hospital notes tended to the South Australian Supreme Court show staff recorded that the child had no parents, was neglected and malnourished.
Two weeks later, he was given under the authority of Aborigines Protection Board to a woman, who later became his foster parent, without the permission of his natural parents.
He did not see his family again for 10 years.
In June 1998, Trevorrow sued the SA government for pain and suffering, claiming he had lost his cultural identity, suffered depression, became an alcoholic and had an erratic employment history after being taken as a child from his family.
The court heard the 50-year-old was depressed due to a chronic insecurity and had been treated with antidepressants and tranquillisers since he was 10.
Justice Thomas Gray ruled in favour of Trevorrow, saying the state falsely imprisoned him as a child and owed him a duty of care for his pain and suffering.
Gray said Trevorrow had had a "tumultuous young adult life" and the removal of him from his family caused injury and damage, which manifested throughout his childhood and adult life.
"I have reached the conclusion that the plaintiff has, thus far, generally had a miserable life," he said in his findings.
"He does not belong. He feels isolated. His depression has led him to abuse alcohol. This abuse has compounded his problems."
Gray noted a "level of determination" on the part of the Aborigines Protection Board to ensure Trevorrow and his mother did not have contact.
He rejected arguments from SA government lawyers that the child was not unlawfully removed from his parents because the Aborigines Protection Board was not part of the government.
The government was ordered to pay $525,000 for injuries, loses and false imprisonment.
Trevorrow left court vindicated, saying he would pay off his house with the money.
"I thought that we would never get there," he told reporters outside the court.
"But the day's come when I've got the peace of mind to start my life."