Family sues attacker who crippled Scots backpacker in street brawl

THE family of a Scottish backpacker badly injured in an assault in Australia are suing his attacker for compensation.

Phillip Clark, 23, spent a month in a coma after being beaten on the head with a plank of wood in 2006.

The assault left him crippled, blind in one eye, speechless and needing round-the-clock care.

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Anthony John Desatge was jailed for six years for the attack but was paroled after serving just 27 months.

Now Mr Clark's relatives have started a lawsuit against Desatge in an Australian court and are seeking the equivalent of up to 45,000.

Desatge has been served with legal papers and the case is set to be heard at a court in Queensland on 6 May.

Mr Clark, 23, from Moodiesburn, Lanarkshire, had been studying forensics at Glasgow Caledonian University.

He took time out to go on a 12-month adventure around Australia, working in bars and picking fruit.

He was attacked after attending a farewell party for a French friend in the small town of Home Hill in July 2006.

An argument developed between local youths and Mr Clark and his friends. Mr Clark was hit on the head and knocked unconscious. The blow severed his orbital nerve, leaving him blind in his left eye.

He was rushed to hospital but within hours was airlifted to another specialist unit and underwent emergency surgery.

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Relatives flew from Scotland and staged a bedside vigil amid fears he would not survive.

Mr Clark spent a month in an intensive care unit in a coma and his parents Eileen and Matthew remained in Australia throughout.

They had to borrow thousands of pounds from friends and family members, sold their car and took a 10,000 bank loan.

Mr Clark was finally discharged and allowed to return home to Scotland.

Although no witnesses saw Desatge hit him with the weapon, he confessed and was sentenced to six years in jail in February 2007.

At the time, Mr Clark's mother presented a victim impact statement in court as her son was not physically able to do it himself.

Mrs Clark told how her son could go from sitting in a coma-like state, to crying for hours, to being aggressive due to frustration. She said he had to undergo weekly physiotherapy as well as seeing a psychologist, speech therapist and dietician. Nursing and post-traumatic stress therapy sessions were also required.

Mr Clark had to attend a neurologist for regular scans and ophthalmologist to help maintain the sight in his good eye.

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She said: "He has no memory of the incident, he does not even know what the accused looks like, yet he still screams in the middle of the night, sometimes for hours and he is absolutely petrified."

She added: "When I take him out, he won't leave my side, he has become totally dependent on me.

"Most of the therapies and classes will need to continue over the next two to three years."

The family's lawyer Kerry Ward yesterday confirmed the matter would be dealt with next month.

Mrs Clark and doctors have all submitted statements which will be heard by the judge.

Ms Ward said the maximum payout is 45,000, and the court would base its verdict on how severe the injuries were. But she added that the cost of Mr Clark's future care could not be considered in the compensation claim.