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Eamonn Farrell/

Retired garda given €90k in damages after being attacked on duty

One of the assailants had shouted “I know where you live. We’ll burn you out.”

A 61-YEAR-OLD retired garda, who feared for his life after being viciously kicked, punched and threatened while on duty, has been awarded €90,500 damages in the High Court.

Former garda Fabian McGowan, who was based at Arklow Garda Station in Co Wicklow, told the court that in November 1999, he was about to go home after the end of his shift when he was informed by the station officer that he was needed to give assistance to colleagues on Main Street.

McGowan told his barrister, David Richardson, that he had gone to the scene in his private car with his wife who had been waiting for him outside the station. When they arrived he saw a man shouting abuse at a colleague.

McGowan said he went to the assistance of his colleague. A group of individuals, all related to each other, had been shouting abuse.

They were well-known to the gardaí and he noticed they had consumed a large quantity of alcohol.

When he had arrested one of the men, he was told to “fuck off” and one of the man’s relatives tried to break his grip with a number of blows to his forearm.

Another man had jumped on his back, punching him on the head.

Mr Richardson said one of Mr McGowan’s assailants shouted “I’m going to have you shot McGowan, you bastard.”

Another man had shouted “I know where you live. We’ll burn you out.”

Serious injuries

McGowan had been taken to St Columcille’s Hospital in Loughlinstown, Co Dublin where it was found he had suffered soft-tissue injuries to his head and body.

McGowan, who sued the Minister for Finance, said he felt severe pain in his neck and left arm and, shortly after the incident, started to drop things from his left hand.

He had later needed to undergo surgery for decompression of his spinal cord. He had also suffered Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms.

He told barrister Anne Rowland, counsel for the State, that his wife, who had driven him to the scene, had witnessed the entire incident and had overheard the threats.

Judge Barton said Mr McGowan had been involved in a dreadful and vicious assault by individuals who had no respect or concern for the safety of gardaí.

The judge said the former garda suffered very severe soft-tissue injuries to his arm and his social and recreational life had been affected.

He awarded him €65,000 damages for his pain and suffering and €25,500 for his expenses, a total of €90,500.

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