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'Like my worst nightmare' - garda who faced down military-trained gunman tells of ordeal

The unarmed garda faced down and disarmed a robber who had been trained by the Lithuanian military.

A GARDA WHO was awarded a Scott medal for bravery in disarming a gunman has been awarded €50,000 damages in a High Court garda compensation hearing.

The incident was like “a nightmare,” the officer told the judge overseeing the hearing.

Mr Justice Bernard Barton heard that in August 2010 Garda Paul Carney and colleague Garda Thomas Ryan had disarmed and arrested two robbers, both of whom had received training while members of the Lithuanian armed forces.

Garda Carney (37), from Leixlip Garda Station, said he and his colleague had been patrolling in a garda car in Celbridge, Co Kildare, when they heard a security alarm going off from a jewellery shop and saw two men running from the shop.

Garda Carney told his barrister, Kieran Kelly, that he saw one of the robbers handing a black pistol type handgun to his accomplice as they ran in front of the garda car.

The court heard the two gardaí followed the men into St Patrick’s Park, Celbridge.

Both he and his colleague gave chase when the robbers split up, running into a residential area.

Military stance

Garda Carney said he was unarmed and was wearing his uniform. He had called for the man he had been chasing to surrender but the robber stopped and pointed the gun at him in a military stance.

“It was like my worst nightmare. I feared for my life but I had no option but to engage with him,” Garda Carney told the court.

Judge Barton heard that Garda Carney tackled the gunman, disarmed him and threw away the gun.

Just as he was about to handcuff the gunman, the second robber approached, picked up the gun, pointed it at Garda Carney and shouted at him to release his partner in crime.

Garda Carney said he expected to be shot and turned his head away. When he looked back, the man had turned back and was running away, having discarded the firearm.

Mr Kelly said both gardaí succeeded in apprehending the two robbers, who were later charged and sentenced to five years each, with three years suspended.

Garda Carney, a charity marathon runner, told the court he later developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and had needed to undergo therapy. He had suffered panic attacks and had become paranoid. He had stopped running for some time as he had developed a fear that he was being followed.

Judge Barton, awarding Garda Carney €50,000 compensation against the State said he had been involved in a very traumatic incident. He had acted very bravely during an incident which was a sad reflection of the times we live in.

“It is a reminder to all of us of the risks which every member of our police force are daily exposed to when they join An Garda Síochána,” Judge Barton said.

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