Shop assistant contracts hepatitis B after needlestick

Needle with drop of bloodA Coventry shop assistant has contracted hepatitis B after being stabbed with needle by heroin-addicted thief.

A prolific shoplifter attacked the worker after he was challenged about stealing goods from a shop in Earlsdon, Coventry.

The terrified shop assistant contracted hepatitis after the drug-addicted shoplifter stabbed him in the stomach with an infected needle. And a judge expressed disbelief that, even though his victim has been successfully treated, the thief had not been charged with causing grievous bodily harm.

Instead, the 44 year-old of Northumberland Road, Spon End, was jailed for 21 months at Warwick Crown Court after pleading guilty to charges of theft and the less serious charge of assault causing actual bodily harm.

Prosecutor Nicholas Smith said the victim was working in the One Stop in Earlsdon Street, Earlsdon, in March when the addict, who he recognised as a known shoplifter, came in.

The assistant watched as he put some items into a store basket, but others into a large bag he was carrying, so he informed his manager and challenged him. The thief tried to barge past him, and when the store manager arrived he became more aggressive and began making threats and pulled out a hypodermic needle.

Fearing for his safety, the shop assistant punched the man in self-defence – at which the addict stabbed him with the needle, dropped the bags and ran. The police were called, and it was only at that stage that the victim noticed a spot of dried blood on his stomach and realised he had a puncture wound from the needle. He was taken to hospital, and tests revealed he had been infected with hepatitis B from the infected needle.

But fortunately, thanks to precautionary jabs he was given and follow-up treatment later in the month, he has now been given the all-clear.

Though the story of Hepatitis B infection successfully cured in this way and within this timeframe seems improbable – more likely, he was given a precautionary course of Hepatitis B immunoglobulin and was fortunate to avoid infection – we wish him the very best of luck, and good health.

As for the Judge’s comments regarding the severity of this attack and the charges brought against the assailant, we might assume that had he stabbed a police officer with the same needle, then the charge would have been far heavier. Somehow, that doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

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