Sokaluk sued for compo

The arsonist who lit a Black Saturday bushfire that killed 10 people has appeared in court over a compensation claim from the partner of one of his victims.

Brendan James Sokaluk, 42, started the fire that caused the Latrobe Valley deaths in February 2009.

The former volunteer firefighter was sentenced to 17 years and nine months' jail, with a minimum of 14 years, after being found guilty by a Supreme Court jury of arson causing death.

His conviction for causing the 10 deaths made him the state's worst killer.

Sokaluk appeared yesterday via videolink from prison before Supreme Court judge Paul Coghlan.

Lawyer Michael Tanner said his client, Kittyanna Verghese, was seeking compensation from Sokaluk over the Churchill fire.

Ms Verghese had been the partner of Scott Fendo, who died in the fire.

Mr Tanner told the court Ms Verghese had already received $14,000 compensation over the fire but was now suing Sokaluk.

Justice Coghlan was told Victoria Legal Aid had decided not to represent Sokaluk over the compensation claim.

The judge, however, urged Legal Aid to reconsider or find a lawyer prepared to represent Sokaluk pro bono.

He adjourned the case for a hearing on 8 November and gave Mr Tanner until 4 October to provide details of the compensation claim, including details of any injuries suffered.

Justice Coghlan asked Sokaluk, who has an intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder, if he understood what was happening and he replied: "Sure."

The judge told Sokaluk the court was trying to organise a lawyer for him and for someone to come out to the prison to see him and explain the compensation case.

When sentencing Sokaluk in April last year, Justice Coghlan said Sokaluk must have known the potential damage the fire could cause, but added that he believed "you did not intend to kill anyone".

He said sentencing Sokaluk was difficult partly because he had autism spectrum disorder and an intellectual disability.

In 2009, the Supreme Court placed an order restraining any sale of Sokaluk's home to ensure money was available to compensate the Churchill fire victims.