"Having more drugs in jails won't protect guards"

Former Grafton jail governor John Heffernan
Former Grafton jail governor John Heffernan JoJo Newby

PRISON officer Geoff Pearce was just 21 when he was attacked by a prisoner known to be HIV positive in Sydney's high-security jail Long Bay in 1990.

Armed with a syringe filled with infected blood, the inmate jabbed him in the buttock.

Subsequent tests revealed Mr Pearce had contracted the disease and he died of AIDS eight years later.

>> RELATED: Needle swap plan in jail a "surrender" says ex-governor

John Heffernan was working at Long Bay on the day the attack happened.

"It was a terrible situation. The department claimed no officer in the world had ever contracted AIDS from a prisoner," Mr Heffernan said.

"We were a world first.

"The officers walked out on strike that day - they were out for two days.

"The department made all sorts of promises but not much came of it."

Mr Pearce said an academic had recently penned a report claiming Mr Pearce would still be alive today if a needle exchange program had been in place.

"That is just garbage," he said.

"That criminal, that inmate, filled the needle with his own blood.

"Having more drugs in jails won't protect guards."

Topics:  grafton jail

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