A POLICE officer who contracted Hepatitis C in a brawl with a drunken suspect has won his nine-year battle for worker's compensation.
In a judgment published today, the Workers Compensation Tribunal has found SA Police must pay for the officer's physical and psychological suffering.
Deputy President Judge Peter McCusker ruled medical evidence proved the officer, known as "P", contracted the virus while on duty in 1988.
"I find the worker suffered injury in the nature of Hepatitis C and subsequent fatigue, irritable bowel syndrome and psychological disability... in the course of employment," he said.
"The worker has been thereby incapacitated."
In his judgment, Judge McCusker said P's illness arose from an incident on October 17, 1988.
At the time, P was stationed at Darlington, and had pulled a driver over on Ocean Boulevard for a drink-driving check.
"(The driver) was instructed to remain at the scene (but) disobeyed this direction," he said.
"(The driver) hit P violently with a closed fist, breaking his nose and causing a significant facial cut that bled.
"P ultimately required two stitches (because) blood was flowing freely from his nose."
Judge McCusker said the driver - "a muscular" 25-year-old with prominent tattoos - also bashed his own head on the car's door frame.
"P's partner recorded the driver's face being flushed and `covered in blood'," he said.
Subsequent testing revealed the driver was an intravenous drug user who carried the Hepatitis C virus.
In 2004, P was unable to continue working due to treatment for the virus.
Citing extensive medical evidence, Judge McCusker said the 1988 incident was the only possible source for P's Hepatitis C.
He said the officer had never used intravenous drugs, had unsafe sex or had a "hairdressing cut".
"P's main problem is his fatigue and this clearly incapacitates him," he said.
"He is no longer fit for patrol work."
He upheld P's claim and ordered the parties to present submissions on the amount and form of compensation to be provided.