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Home / Latest News / Ex-Royal marine returns from the brink of death after suffering horrific brain damage in Thailand

Ex-Royal marine returns from the brink of death after suffering horrific brain damage in Thailand

Ex-Royal marine Steve Thomas was on the brink of death when he was found with massive head injuries in the middle of a Thai road.

Doctors warned his family if the former 42 Commando lance corporal ever recovered he would never walk or talk again because of the horrific brain damage he suffered.

But two years later the former soldier has spoken for the first time about his astonishing road to  recovery,  belief he was the victim of a vicious  robbery and his determination to  get better every day.

“They said I had  a bad accident,” the  41-year-old WalesOnline.

“But I was attacked.”

He was discovered lying in the road on September 5,  2011, but had no cuts on his hands or face – as might have been found  on a crash victim.

But the dad-of-two was rushed to Bangkok Hospital in  Phuket with a broken jaw.

And the Bluebird fan’s cheek was shattered and his head cracked open.

His eye socket was wrecked.

A fracture ran from it, over the top of his head, and to the back of his skull. His neck was broken.

The martial arts expert – who now  walks slowly with a stick –  has no memory of what happened.

After the incident he suffered three brain haemorrhages and was  left with  severe  brain  damage.

Steve Thomas during his time in the army
Steve Thomas during his time in the army

This has  left the former soldier with partial paralysis.

Talking and walking are difficult.

His right hand is weak. He is blind in  his right eye.

“My speech is not very good but my  brain is working all the time, a hundred  to the dozen,” Steve said.

“I’m working on that and have speech  therapy once a week. It’s very good.

“Only time will tell if it will make a  difference. I’m feeling fine about it  because I’m lucky to be alive.”

He was left unconscious after the  incident, which happened near the Wat  Chalong Buddhist temple, near the  southern tip of the island.

“It sent me into a coma,” Steve said.

“My memory is very bad now but it is  getting a lot better. I still don’t know what happened to me. Maybe in time I  will, but now I don’t.”

Steve Thomas with son Llewelyn and mum Linda Gardiner
Steve Thomas with son Llewelyn and mum Linda Gardiner

His mum Linda Gardiner, who lives  with her son in Newport, recalled the  family’s horror when they realised  what had happened.

“When my husband got in touch with  a doctor in Thailand he was told it was  really serious and that if he was not  moved from the hospital he was in he  was going to die,” the 59-year-old  said.

“I was just numb and shocked and  devastated.

“I didn’t know what we were going to  face or what condition Steve was in.”

Linda, who runs a bedroom company  in Cardiff, booked a flight to Phuket. 

“I was over there for six weeks with  him and Allan was there for three  weeks,” she said.

Allan is her husband, Steve’s stepdad.

“It was costing £1,200 a day in this  private hospital,” the mum-of-one and  grandmother-of-four said.

“So we needed funds.”

The Marines and the British Legion  helped. So did family and friends.

“The bill was over £40,000,” Linda  said.

“And then there was the flight home  as well. We were quoted over £100,000  to bring him home.”

Her boy, a grandfather-of-one, was  on Phuket tackling Somali pirates.

He doesn’t think his work was behind  the assault.  After the attack £300 he  had in his wallet was gone.

His family were amazed by his recovery.

“It’s a miracle,” Linda said.  Only in  time did I realise how serious it was.

“I didn’t realise the extent of the brain  injuries. I had no understanding of  brain injury and had no idea of how  severe it would be.

“But he has done marvellously.”

Steve agreed.

“They said I would be in a vegetative  state,” he said.

“I put my recovery down to my fighting spirit. And my mother, my children  and my close team.”

Steve returned to the UK on October  20, 2011. He was taken into intensive  care at Newport’s Royal Gwent.

On November 24 he transferred to  the city’s St Woolos hospital. He left  there on March 16 last year.

Since then he has been working with  neuro physiotherapists Sarah Candy  and Jakko Brouwers.

They have been using state of the art  equipment to get Steve in shape at  Newport’s specialist Morrello Clinic.

The family have little hope of catching  his attackers.

“We have spent our time moving  forward rather than going back and  wasting money trying to find someone  we may never find,” Linda said.

Steve is spending time working on his  balance.

“I’m not the best now but I am recovering every day,” Steve said.

“I will do more tomorrow and I will do  more the day after.”

It was “remarkable” Steve had come  so far.

“We are so pleased because it could  have been so different,” Linda said.

“He might not have been able to walk  or talk. He could have been  permanently in a wheelchair, but he is  not.”   

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