Ex-policeman ‘vindicated’, awarded interest on PTSD payout

A FORMER Grafton policeman says a court decision to award him interest on some disputed benefits he was paid following his medical discharge from the force, is vindication for his stance.

Last week the NSW Industrial Court decided to award Stephen Bell, who left the NSW Police in August 2012, interest on the difference between the benefits he was paid since then.

It is his third win in the courts since he left the police.

After Mr Bell left the force, police paid him at the injured off-duty rate, pegged at double an officer's annual salary.

However, in a simultaneous case in the Workers Compensation Commission, Mr Bell won a decision to have his benefit increased to the injured on-duty rate of four times his annual salary.

Mr Bell said the police had agreed to pay him the increase amount, but disputed his claim for interest on the money.

"Basically the commissioner agreed that the police had withheld my money," he said.

However, the court decided Mr Bell would only receive about 40% of the interest the money would have accrued because the solicitors representing both parties had agreed to a series of adjournments in the case between the end of 2012 and March 2014.

It has been a long struggle for Mr Bell, who left the force facing assault charges, which led to him developing post traumatic stress disorder.

"Those charges were dismissed in court and the Workers Compensation Commission agreed I had to be paid the on duty rate," he said.

"Basically the police and the insurance companies try to delay and delay you, hoping you will give up and go away."

He said no amount of money could compensate him for what he has lost in his career and health.

"I would rather have my job and mental health back than deal with the constant nightmares, flashbacks and problems of PTSD, but it is good to be vindicated again," Mr Bell said.

"They might start listening after continually being beaten in front of independent judges."

The dispute is not over yet, Mr Bell said.

"I'm suing the NSW Police Commissioner for negligence," he said.

"We've put in our paperwork and they've got 30 days to reply."


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