Belfast Telegraph

Compensation snub fury: PSNI man blown up driving to work ‘was not on duty’

By John Mulgrew

A decision to deny compensation to a Catholic policeman who lost a leg in a dissident republican car bomb attack has been branded as “shocking and ridiculous” by a member of the Policing Board.

Peadar Heffron was badly injured when a booby-trap bomb exploded underneath his car in Randalstown in January 2010.

Policing Board member Jonathan Craig MLA said the decision would send “shockwaves across the police force” and seriously impact on the recruitment of young officers.

The BBC reported that the officer’s claim was turned down because the law ruled he was not on duty at the time. The case has been adjourned for further legal representations.

Constable Heffron (35), was unsuccessful in his claim from the Industrial Injuries Tribunal.

It was reported that an appeal against the decision was made to the Social Security Commissioner at a special hearing in Belfast on Thursday.

Mr Heffron (left), a police officer for 10 years at the time of the explosion, had a leg amputated and now uses a wheelchair.

He was on his way to work at Woodbourne police station in west Belfast, when the bomb

exploded about a mile from his home. A former captain of the PSNI’s GAA team, he has not been able to return to work.

DUP MLA Mr Craig said he was “dumbfounded” at the “absolutely ridiculous decision”.

“When is an officer in this country off duty? It’s a 24/7 job,” he added. “If they are not in a police station, even when at home they are at a high state of alert. I find it an incredible outcome.

“This will send shockwaves across the force. If you were a young republican, looking at an outcome like that — common sense says this will have an impact in recruiting young officers.”

According to a source close to the case, although the commissioner indicated that he was “very sympathetic to Peadar’s situation” the regulations “do not appear to be as sympathetic to a young man who has sacrificed so much”.

Police Federation chairman Terry Spence said: “We are extremely concerned that the Industrial Injuries Tribunal seem unable to accept that Constable Peadar Heffron was injured as a direct result of his employment.

“The fact that he was driving to work at the time he was seriously injured in that bomb explosion clearly demonstrates that he was injured on duty and falls within the regulations of injury on duty as far as the PSNI is concerned.”

Background

Constable Peadar Heffron (35) suffered serious injuries after a dissident booby-trap bomb exploded under his car in Randalstown in January 2010. He had only driven around a mile from his home to work in west Belfast when the device went off. The ex-captain of the PSNI’s GAA team lost a leg as a result of the blast and now uses a wheelchair.

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