A Victorian man, rendered quadriplegic after a horror helicopter crash in Papua New Guinea, is accusing an international aviation company of failing to pay him millions of dollars in damages.
Bruce Towers now lives in a tiny demountable trailer on a property near Geelong, unable to work and struggling financially due to his disability.
The 69-year-old former pilot suffered spinal injuries in 2006 when the helicopter he was flying crashed into a mountain, killing three passengers on board.
In April this year, the Cairns Supreme Court ordered aviation company Hevilift to pay Mr Towers $5.6 million for failing to provide him with proper flying instruments and warn him about dangerous weather conditions that led to the crash.
Mr Towers said he had not received a cent of what he was owed.
“They have fought me tooth-and-nail all the way to the end … I am peeved off, the fact that they can’t accept it,” he said.
Mr Towers is unable to walk and now requires a wheelchair.
He said the compensation, which he spent 14 years fighting for, would help with medical expenses and allow him to pay back friends he had borrowed money from over the years.
“Money to do things and get by and live life a little bit better. I would like to leave something for people,” Mr Towers said.
His solicitor, Tim Lucey, said Hevilift had ignored correspondence requesting Mr Towers’ compensation be paid.
“We are very concerned that he may not receive any compensation,” Mr Lucey said.
Hevilift declined to comment on the matter because it was appealing to the Supreme Courts to have the damages reduced.
But Mr Lucey said the appeal process did not exempt Hevilift from having to pay the compensation.
“It just calls into question whether they are a fit and proper person — or people — to fly people around,” he said.
Hevilift Limited is a Papua New Guinean company with subsidiaries that operate in Australia, India, Singapore and Thailand.
Mr Lucey said further action would be taken against Hevilift if it did not pay Mr Towers.
“If someone doesn’t have the money to pay due and owing, debt administrators can be appointed to the company to sell assets, to wind it up,” he said.