£100,00 Payout After HIV Attack

1 June 2011, 06:00

A woman custody officer who was bitten on her face by an HIV-positive asylum seeker has won more than £100,000 in compensation, her lawyers have said.

Barbara-Ann Ennis, 40, needed three operations to repair the wound to her face and had to wait six months before being given the all-clear over HIV, which can lead to Aids.

Ms Ennis, an Army veteran who served in Bosnia and Iraq, was left permanently scarred by the attack at Gatwick Airport in August 2006.

She called on her former employer G4S to ensure lessons were learned after it emerged that detainee Sylvia Fileingoshisho, who was later jailed for three years and deported, had bitten another officer just days earlier.

An error meant Ms Ennis was unaware of the previous attack as the detainee was moved from Yarl's Wood Immigration Removal Centre in Bedford to the airport.

"Since the attack, my life's been like a living nightmare I can't wake up from,'' Ms Ennis, of Ashford, Kent, said.

"The trauma of thinking that - through no fault of my own - I'd been infected by a truly dreadful and life changing disease, having to take treatment with awful side effects and enduring a six-month wait to find out my fate - has been torturous.

"I want to compel employers to take every step possible to protect workers so what happened to me can never happen to anyone ever again."

Ms Ennis's physical and psychiatric injuries forced her to leave her job at the end of 2007 and she has won a six-figure compensation package in an out-of-court settlement.

Her lawyer Natasha Lewis, of Irwin Mitchell's serious injury team, said: "Barbara-Ann's injuries have had a devastating impact on her social and professional life.

"Forcing her to quit the job she loved, facing a future of financial insecurity, serious uncertainty about her health and psychological damage.

"Whilst she is pleased that her battle for justice has now been won, and that she finally has access to the funds she needs to start rebuilding her life, no amount of money will ever truly compensate her for what she has been through.''

She went on: "To learn that another officer had suffered a similar attack just days before, and that still precautionary measures had not been put in place to protect staff against a clearly violent and dangerous individual has been a serious cause for concern.

"It is now imperative that G4S Ltd demonstrate that every step has been taken to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again, and provide reassurance to Barbara-Ann that lessons have been learnt so that no-one should have to suffer as she has going forward.''

Ms Lewis added: "Barbara-Ann can now look forward to a much brighter future. Her damages will enable her to continue to receive the support she requires and will provide her with some financial security, as her ability to work in the future is compromised."