A TERRITORIAL Army soldier who was almost killed when a roadside bomb blew up the ambulance in which he was travelling has slammed the Government for denying him compensation.
Married father-of-three Stephen Llewellyn, 45, of Blackburn Road, Oswaldtwistle, sustained life-changing injuries after he was sent to Basra in Iraq as part of the Queen’s Lancashire Regiment’s Lancastrian and Cumbrian Volunteers in 2003.
While performing peace-keeping duties he was stabbed trying to calm down a riot and needed urgent medical attention.
It was en route to hospital that the unthinkable happened – a roadside bomb blew up the ambulance, killing the officer caring for him and seriously injuring him and the driver.
Stephen, who has been left with partial deafness in his left ear, after the impact of the bomb burst his ear drum, and reduced mobility in his right leg, said: "It felt like the vehicle had taken a really severe blow-out.
"But I realised it was much more serious than that when I couldn’t wake the officer.
"I don’t remember being in pain because I think the adrenaline takes over. I just remember thinking I didn’t know what was going to happen next. I thought it was the end."
Stephen and the two other men in the ambulance were eventually conveyed to hospital by Black Watch soldiers patrol-ling the area.
After being stabilised in an Army hospital Stephen was flown back to the UK to receive specialist medical treatment.
Under the Ministry of Defence’s Criminal Injuries Compensation Over-seas scheme (CICO), soldiers injured before 2005 during active service are only entitled to compensation if the injury was sustained while not in direct military combat.
In Stephen’s case no group has claimed liability for the roadside bomb that killed his colleague and badly injured him.
He said: "When we were in Basra, we were not in charge. We were performing peace-keeping duties trying to help the police and the local authority govern the country.
"Nobody has claimed responsibility for the bomb, which is odd because if it was a planned attack the guerilla group or political party behind it would have owned up to show it was not scared of the British Army."
The MOD has accepted that Stephen can claim compensation for being stabbed but not for the lasting injuries caused by the bomb.
It also claims that he receives compensation each month for his injuries in the form of a veterans’ pension but he strongly disagrees and says that this pension is a right of every retired soldier.
Stephen, who served in the Falklands in 1982 and Northern Ireland in 1986, now works for a housing association and is adamant he will continue to press his claim for compensation.
If he had been injured after 2005 he would have been able to claim up to £285,000 from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. Under the CICO soldiers can be awarded up to £500,000.
An MOD spokesman said: "Mr Llewelyn was paid a war pension which is the correct form of compensation in these circumstances.
"His injuries were linked to his military service. The Criminal Injuries Compensation (Overseas) scheme is intended to compensate people who have been the victims of a criminal act."