Susan Couch, the Auckland accountant left for dead during a triple murder in south Auckland five years ago, is virtually destitute, say her supporters.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust, which is helping her take legal action against the Government for compensation, said the once proudly independent woman had been left struggling to survive after the vicious attack.

Ms Couch was the only survivor of a killing rampage by William Bell described by police as a "slaughter" in the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA in December, 2001. The attack left three people dead and Ms Couch so badly hurt, ambulance officers and doctors said there was little chance she would live.

She survived against heavy odds but trust spokesman Garth McVicar said she would never work again and was living on a small pension and help from others.

Lawyers were working for nothing on her legal action against the Government and the trust was paying her legal expenses and out of pocket expenses.

"She's destitute. All the systems that are supposed to look after her have been a disaster."

He said the trust would probably run a big fund raising campaign for her, simply so she could survive with some quality of life.

"It is appalling.

"There are a number of organisations including ourselves who have assisted her to survive on a daily basis."

Mr McVicar said before the 2001 killing rampage by Bell which left her in a pool of blood on the floor of the RSA clubrooms, she was a proud and independent woman.

"She was a trainee accountant and worked regularly.

"She can't work now and never will be able to again.

"He (Bell) left her in such a state I don't think her body will ever recover.

"She still uses a stick and gets very tired and stressed.

"The courage of the woman is amazing. She was not expected to survive and to take on a system and try to get some redress, not just for her but for other people in the same boat . . . ," Mr McVicar said.

He said Ms Couch could not concentrate for long periods and her financial woes were particularly upsetting but mentally she was strong.

"It gives her a lot of strength to have people like ourselves and others like Brian Henry (her lawyer) who are backing her now."

She was "over the moon, ecstatic," at the Supreme Court ruling yesterday which paved the way for her next legal step against the Government, Mr McVicar said.

"She wants acknowledgment from the Government that they actually stuffed up and she wants some financial redress to make sure her special position in life is restored to what it was before the offence."

Ms Couch was in a coma for several weeks after the attack which left her with bad head injuries from the beating.

Her arms and skull were broken and she had blood clots on her brain.

During the dramatic trip to hospital in an ambulance, she was said to be clinging to life by a thread.

Bell's trial was told it was a miracle of modern medicine she was alive.

Ambulance officers could not get a breathing tube through her tightly clenched lips. She had so little blood left in her system they also had trouble inserting intravenous lines to replace lost blood.

Her lips had turned blue from the massive loss of blood. She had a gaping cut over her right eye, massive head wounds and was bleeding out her ear because of a fracture at the base of her skull.

She was also paralysed down one side.

She was described as a "'status one" emergency, the most extreme of emergency cases.

- NZPA