Lockerbie orphan is found dead in Thai hotel: Police investigate drug link to death of man for whom million-pound compensation was 'cursed money'

Alex Renton
Sunday 23 October 2011 07:08

AN ORPHAN of the Lockerbie tragedy has died in Thailand, five years after his parents and sister were killed when a Pan Am jet fell on their village in southern Scotland after a bomb exploded on board.

David Flannigan, 24, was found dead in a hotel in the beach resort of Pattaya, 80 miles south of Bangkok, on Wednesday night. His 19-year- old brother, Steven, the only surviving member of the immediate family, has been told that a heart attack is suspected. Thai police are said to be investigating the role of drink or drugs in the death.

Mr Flannigan was travelling with a male friend en route for Australia. He left Britain at the beginning of this month in the latest of a series of foreign holidays taken since he received more than pounds 1m in compensation money from Pan Am and insurance companies.

David had a troubled life, even before the night of 21 December 1988. He left his parents' home two years earlier after an argument and gone to live in Blackpool. After the Boeing 747 fell on the Flannigans' house in Sherwood Crescent, he said that his great regret was that he had never made up the quarrel. He had intended to spend that Christmas with his family.

A paint-sprayer by trade, David had a brush with the law immediately after the tragedy: he took a rental car without permission from Blackpool in order to attend his parents' and sister's funeral. He never lived down the title 'black sheep of Lockerbie', given him by tabloid newspapers.

Subsequently he was arrested for a variety of petty offences in Blackpool, mostly alcohol related. When not abroad he dabbled in night-club and pub ownership in the town. He also sold cars. He lived with his girlfriend in a house he had bought on Blackpool's South Shore. In an interview in 1991, he told how he had regained contact with his younger brother, from whom he had been estranged.

'I don't like being called a millionaire even if it's true,' he said. 'Money cannot replace a family.

'The one thing I always regret is not being able to patch it up with my parents before they were wiped off the face of the earth.'

A Blackpool associate said last night that the compensation money had provided no consolation for David. 'The psychological consequences and scars were always going to be with him for the rest of his life. He could not cope with them. It overshadowed him for five years. He would hit highs and lows and when he was down he called his money 'cursed' and said how it wasn't doing him any good.'

Steven Flannigan still lives in Lockerbie. At the time of the disaster he was 14, and he escaped death because he was at a neighbour's house mending a puncture on his sister's bicycle.

He said later: 'We were working in his garage when we heard this roaring noise. Then there was an almighty bang. We rushed outside but all I could see was flame and smoke. I couldn't see my house. I didn't know then that it was because it wasn't there any more.'

The body of 10-year-old Joanne was found on the site of 16 Sherwood Crescent, but the remains of his parents, Kathleen, 41, and Tom, 44, were never discovered.

Last night Bob Jardine, with whom Steven lives, said that he was greatly distressed by news of his brother's death. David Flannigan, Mr Jardine added, had visited Steven just before going abroad. 'He said he was in very good form. He seemed to have put his troubles behind him and was greatly looking forward to his holiday.'

In 1991 Steven Flannigan received the biggest pay-out of any of the Lockerbie survivors, when Pan Am, in an out-of-court settlement, gave pounds 16.7m to the 250 Scottish families affected. Steven, then living with foster parents, received pounds 2.1m. This month he revealed that he has been taking flying lessons and wished to become a commercial airline pilot.

Two hundred and fifty-nine passengers and crew were on flight 103, flying from London to New York, when a bomb blew it apart at 31,000ft over Dumfries at 7pm on 21 December 1988. Eleven Lockerbie people were killed. Two Libyans have been named as prime suspects.

(Photographs omitted)

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments