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Jury awards €13k damages to man who claims he was assaulted by gardaí

The man had claimed he was kicked, grabbed by the throat and punched.

File photo
File photo
Image: RollingNews.ie

A HIGH COURT jury has awarded a Co Westmeath man €13,000 in damages after finding he was assaulted while being arrested by gardaí on suspicion of drink driving.

The award was made to Fergal O’Rourke (aged 62 years) who claimed he suffered injuries after being assaulted by two gardaí who had been operating a checkpoint in the village of Ballymore in Co Westmeath on the night of July 12th 2009. The two gardaí were stationed at Moate garda station in Westmeath at the time.

He claimed he was kicked, grabbed by the throat and punched by gardaí in the course of the arrest. He also claimed while he was on the ground, and in handcuffs, one of the gardaí struck him with an implement several times.

The claims were denied. Gardaí claimed they had used reasonable force to apprehend O’Rourke.

Reasonable force

After deliberating for more than three hours the jury, before Justice Colm MacEochaidh, found one of the two gardaí involved in the arrest, Garda Darren Murphy, had assaulted, negligently inflicted injuries on and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on O’Rourke.

Reasonable force was not used in the circumstances the jury found.

However the jury found Garda Joanne McGhee, who was also involved in the arrest, did not assault, injure or inflict emotional distress on O’Rourke.

The jury then went on to award O’Rourke a total of €13,000 in damages. O ‘Rourke from Mullaghcloe, Ballymore had sued the State and the Garda Commissioner for the assault and battery he claimed he was subjected to.

O’Rourke, who accepted he had two drinks in a pub on the date in question prior to his arrest, required treatment in hospital following the incident due to the injuries he sustained.

Photos

During the trial the jury were shown pictures of O’Rourke’s injuries taken by a professional photographer days after the incident occurred.

The defendants said O’Rourke was arrested after the jeep he was driving performed a u-turn at a garda checkpoint in Ballymore. He then drove down a laneway, and left his vehicle before being apprehended by the gardaí.

The gardai said O’Rourke was wild, dishevelled, aggressive and intoxicated on the night in question. Mr O’Rourke had kicked Garda McGhee, knocking her to the ground, while trying to flee from the gardaí.

Garda Murphy said he used his baton on Mr O’Rourke on three occasions to protect himself, and a struggle ensued. He said reasonable force was used during the incident. Garda McGhee denied striking O’Rourke.

Mr O’Rourke, who pleaded guilty at Athlone District Court to a charge of failing to provide a specimen after his arrest, claimed he had accidentally kicked Garda McGhee when he lost his balance while he was being apprehended.

Read: Man claims garda struck him with weapon while he was handcuffed>

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Aodhan O Faolain

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