Northern Ireland

Constable Peadar Heffron loses first stage of compensation bid

Peadar Heffron was badly injured when a booby-trap bomb exploded underneath his car
Image caption Peadar Heffron lost a leg in the attack

A policeman who lost a leg in a dissident republican bomb attack has been unsuccessful in the first stage of a bid to win industrial injury compensation.

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

His claim has been turned down because the law has ruled he was not on duty at the time of the attack. However, the case has been adjourned for further legal representations.

Mr Heffron had been on his way to work at Woodbourne police station in west Belfast and had driven about a mile from his home when the bomb exploded.

The 35-year-old, who had been a police officer for 10 years, now uses a wheelchair.

According to a report on Sunday in The Detail , Constable Heffron has never been able to return to work. He has been unsuccessful in his claim from the Industrial Injuries Tribunal.

The Detail said an appeal against the decision was made to the Social Security Commissioner at a special hearing in Belfast on Thursday.

"There is an issue as to whether or not the compensation is payable in circumstances where the person concerned was on his way to work and therefore was technically on duty," a source told The Detail.

Image caption The bomb exploded under the police officer's car

"The commissioner has indicated that he is very sympathetic to Peadar's situation, but the regulations do not appear to be as sympathetic to a young man who has sacrificed so much for his community."

The source told The Detail that Constable Heffron "may be compelled to retire from PSNI because of his horrific injuries".

"The question is will his entitlement to Industrial Injury Benefit carry on into his retirement?"

The BBC understands that the police were not aware of any opposition to compensation; it is their view that travel to and from work is duty.

Police Federation chairman Terry Spence told the BBC that that under Police regulations an injured officer - whether injured on his way to work or not - remained on full pay while he recovered.

However, an officer can apply to the Industrial Injuries Tribunal for compensation in the eventuality that he would not be able to recuperate enough to return to full time work.

Mr Spence said that had always been the case - that officers on their way to and from work or at home had been denied such benefit.

"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," he told The Detail.

Mr Heffron is an Irish language specialist for the PSNI and was also the captain of its GAA team.

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