Former monk claims £250k damages over car accident

A FORMER Bhuddist monk who maintains he is unable to carry out sitting meditation following a fatal car accident has raised an action for £250,000 damages.

Court of Session, Edinburgh. File picture: Ian Georgeson
Court of Session, Edinburgh. File picture: Ian Georgeson

Sangthong Phensrisai was travelling to Edinburgh from London as a front seat passenger in a car with three monks in the rear of the vehicle when the driver lost control. The rear seat passengers died.

Mr Phensrisai, 50, of Leith, Edinburgh, told the Court of Session that he fell asleep and came round in hospital to be told that the accident had happened.

“I was unconscious. I just woke up in hospital. It was like the whole body fell apart,” he said.

He was found to have suffered fractures to ribs, his sternum and back and had suffered head injuries.

Mr Phensrisai is now suing the driver of the car, Anong Yukitan, of London, which crashed near Fala Dam, Pathhead, Midlothian, on Christmas Eve in 2012.

It is said that he suffered loss, injury and damage through her fault and negligence.

It is said that as she approached a corner on the A68 road she lost control of the Nissan Note which flipped onto its side and went into the path of oncoming traffic, and was hit on the roof by another car.

Liability in the damages case has been admitted but the amount of compensation to be awarded to the former monk is in dispute.

In the action it is said that Mr Phensrisai was “shocked and saddened” by the news of the deaths of the three monks who died at the scene of the accident.

He maintains in the action that following the accident his studies for a PhD degree were disrupted and he lost earnings as a translator and interpreter and for work in the prison service.

It is said he continues to have pain in his back and chest and is unable to bow and do sitting meditation.

It is alleged that he is compromised in the labour market and will have difficulty undertaking work involving prolonged sitting, standing, walking, bending or heavy lifting.

The Thai-born British resident told the court that he had been a Bhuddist monk for about 25 years before deciding to pursue further academic studies. He said: “It was like my big goal in life.”

The meditation teacher had worked in prisons in England and said that among the meditation positions was sitting cross-legged and upright.

He said the longest he would have meditated sitting was three hours, but that in jail those who attended would meditate sitting on chairs or on the floor, but not cross-legged.

Lawyers acting for the car driver maintain that the sum sued for in the action is excessive.

The hearing before Lord Uist continues.