Blaze victim in ‘pitiful’ payout

Handout photo issued by law firm Irwin Mitchell of Oliver Smart, a British survivor of a nightclub fire at Bangkok's upmarket Santika Club on New Year's Day 2009. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday September 21, 2011. See PA story FIRE Thailand. Photo credit should read: Irwin Mitchell/PA Wire

Handout photo issued by law firm Irwin Mitchell of Oliver Smart, a British survivor of a nightclub fire at Bangkok's upmarket Santika Club on New Year's Day 2009. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Wednesday September 21, 2011. See PA story FIRE Thailand. Photo credit should read: Irwin Mitchell/PA Wire

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A SHEFFIELD man injured in a nightclub blaze in Thailand has spoken of his disappointment at the level of compensation offered.

Oliver Smart, aged 37, from Millhouses, was left fighting for life after suffering serious burns when a fire broke out as he celebrated New Year’s Eve while he was on holiday visiting his girlfriend.

The blaze, which killed 67 people and injured scores more, broke out in Bangkok’s upmarket Santika Club when an indoor firework display went wrong - turning the venue into an inferno and trapping revellers inside.

Bangkok’s Criminal Court found nightclub owner Wisuk Sejsawat and company executive Boonchu Laosinart guilty of ‘causing the deaths of other persons without intent’ and jailed them both for three years before ordering Boonchu’s company to pay the equivalent of a total of £162,000 in compensation to the victims or their families.

Mr Smart, who spent six weeks in hospital in Thailand, said his claim for his injuries alone had been valued at around the same amount.

“I am relieved that at last someone is going to be held accountable for what happened,” he said.

“However it is disappointing to see how much those responsible have been asked to pay.

“My own claim has been valued at around the same amount the court has ordered to be paid in total.”

His lawyer, Clive Garner, a partner at Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, said there were grave concerns about the very low level of the payout.

“We have no information at this early stage as to how this will be shared between the victims,” he said. “This is a pitiful sum and is clearly insufficient to compensate those who have suffered serious injuries, and the dozens of families who lost loved ones in this terrible incident.

“Even the costs of medical treatment and rehabilitation alone will significantly exceed this sum. We are very concerned about the injustice of the award and how this could affect the recovery of victims.”

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