Carpenter who claimed £900k over thumb injury denies exaggerating his pain after pictures emerge of him making an 'OK' sign abroad

Yohannes Lowe
Oliver Kilbey outside the High Court during compensation claim over crushed thumb - Champion News

A carpenter who claimed £900,000 over a damaged thumb has been caught out after a snorkeling picture in the Maldives shows him making an “OK” sign, a court has heard.

Oliver Kilbey, 23, said he has been left in constant pain after a block of masonry fell on his thumb while climbing a ladder during the construction of a millionaires' apartment block in Fitzrovia in 2014.

He is suing his former employer Arien Contractors, of Sidcup, as he claims that the injury left him with “psychiatric injuries” and “complex regional pain syndrome” in his hand.

However, Kilbey is now facing accusations of exaggerating his condition after pictures of him doing  “the divers' OK salute” with his injured hand while snorkelling in the Maldives have emerged on social media.

Other pictures posted to Facebook, including him “clubbing with his mates” and playing the video game Grand Theft Auto, are being used by the company's lawyers to dispute the impact of the thumb injury.

While admitting liability for the accident, the construction company argue that Mr Kilbey is overstating how much pain the injury has caused, as its lawyers pointed to pictures showing him “jovial and smiling”.

Picture shows Oliver Kilbey making an “OK” sign with his hands in a social media picture used as part of evidence in the trial  Credit: Champion News

Jonathan Payne QC showed the High Court images of him at a Halloween boat party on the River Thames in 2016, at a rock gig in the Electric Ballroom, as well as him at another club four weeks after the accident.

He said: “I find it extraordinary, for a man who didn't want his arm touched or brushed or knocked into, you are going to all these events within a short time.”

Addressing Kilbey directly at the hearing, Mr Payne added:  “GTA is Grand Theft Auto, isn't it? You actually need to use your thumbs to play Grand Theft Auto. You actually have to use your thumbs on the pads.”

Kilbey admitted to playing the game for a brief time, but said that he mostly used the left joystick.

He told the court from the witness box that the injury left him “very depressed and very distressed”, adding that his social life has greatly suffered as a result.  

Oliver Kilbey taking a selfie in a social media picture used as part of evidence in court Credit: Champion News

Kilbey, who was a teenager apprentice at the time of the incident, has denied all allegations of exaggeration. He is now working for a sausage company near his home in Catford, South London.

His Barrister, Hannah Godfrey, urged the judge to dismiss Mr Payne's arguments, saying: “Mr Kilbey's submission is that the allegation of malingering is ill-founded and not based on credible evidence. "There is no medical evidence in support of that allegation. Surveillance evidence shows him using his right hand in a fairly normal manner, but doing light duties, which is what he has always said he is able to do.”

The hearing continues.