'The guy who stabbed me later died of Aids'

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"Ray" was stabbed with a syringe three years ago while working as a security guard at a store in Talbot Street, off O'Connell Street, Dublin's central throroughfare. He asked us not to use his real name: employers fear losing customers if shops are associated with violent crime.

The attack occurred when Ray, an athletic-looking man in his mid-twenties, tried to bar a well-known thief from entering the premises. "I was in the job almost four years when it happened. The guy that did it was a junkie [called Noel Flood]. He's dead now. He died of Aids two years ago.

"He had this wax jacket on. As I was putting him out he put his hand in the pocket and pulled out the syringe. We struggled with it and he got me in the left hand." He points to the spot at the base of his thumb.

"I went to the Mater Hospital and had an Aids test done and had to wait for the results. I also got a hepatitis C and a hepatitis B and tetanus injections. I gave a statement to the guards [police] and told them who he was, but that was the last I ever heard of it."

The shock of the assault left him "a bit weak" while awaiting the test results. "For six weeks I was a nervous wreck." He was relieved when told the chances of infection were slight. He now works, still in security, in a large department store. "It's more likely it's going to happen when you're in a shop by yourself," he says.

"I was going out with a girl a long time at that time. The doctor said we couldn't have sex for six weeks. So we didn't," he adds.

Addicts will use syringes in any burglary or confrontation, not just when stealing cash or goods to re-sell, Ray says. He confirms that several colleagues have also had syringes pulled on them in complete disregard for shopworkers' health. "Even if they give one of us Aids they're not going to live long enough to serve the sentence," he explains.