Cop bites back with law suit
A CENTRAL Queensland cop had to keep a safe distance from his family, fearing he could pass on a potentially deadly disease.
Plainclothes Senior Constable Tony Morris was bitten on the arm when he was attacked by a woman while he and fellow officers executed a search warrant at a suspected druggie’s home.
He worried he’d contracted an infectious disease and was tested for Syphilis, Hepatitis B and C and HIV.
The uncertainty meant he had to limit his interaction with his family, a wife and two young children.
Mr Morris had planned a family holiday in Bali for the day after he was bitten.
While his test results came back clear, the 34-year-old, who works at Gladstone’s child protection and investigation unit, is hitting back for his months of suffering.
He has been praised for launching legal proceedings this week in the Supreme Court at Rockhampton seeking compensation.
According to the Queensland Police Union, assaults on cops, like the March 2007 attack on Mr Morris in Gladstone, are becoming increasingly common.
A union spokesman said the problem had increased during the past couple of years with about 3000 cops now assaulted annually.
The union is encouraging more officers to stand up for themselves through the court system.
Mr Morris’s claim follows a similar one from an ambulance officer earlier this month who was also attacked while she worked.
She was also backed by union representatives.
Mr Morris is representing himself in his matter.
“I was angry and disgusted that I had been bitten when all I was trying to do was to perform my duties as a police officer,” his claim says.
“I was extremely worried that I had contracted a disease.
“I withdrew from my family and social activities ... (and) have felt a great deal of stress from the incident.”
A psychological assessment, supporting the claim, says the four months following the incident were extremely stressful for Mr Morris.
The woman was sentenced to three months’ imprisonment, suspended after one month, for the attack.
Sentencing judge Duncan McMeekin said it was important members of the community understood police officers were not to be attacked.
The union spokesman said the rise in attacks had prompted the introduction of Tasers.
“We encourage officers to do this (take legal action),” the spokesman said.
“We are hopeful that if others do the same it may send a message to the less desirable elements in the community.
“We don’t think criminals should get away scot-free.
“Unfortunately the courts do not sentence heavily for people that do this.”
The matter is to be heard on December 14.