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Dublin: 14 °C Tuesday 26 May, 2020

Garda who 'lost her ambition' after vicious assault awarded €75,000

Garda Claire Sheehan underwent surgery after suffering a broken nose during the 2007 attack.

File photo: Four Courts, Dublin
File photo: Four Courts, Dublin
Image: Shutterstock/Sean Pavone

A 34-YEAR-old garda, who claimed she lost her ambition to become a sergeant because of post-traumatic stress disorder following an assault while on duty, has been awarded €75,000 damages in the High Court.

Garda Claire Sheehan, who suffered a broken nose during the assault, said during a garda compensation hearing that in March 2007 she assisted colleagues in apprehending and escorting a young man, charged with theft, to Bridewell Garda Station in Cork, where she is stationed.

When she saw him putting his hand in the back pocket of his trousers, she became concerned that he may have a weapon and approached him to ask what he was doing, leading him to suddenly punch her in the face.

Garda Sheehan told her barrister, John Lucey SC, that she felt immediate pain in her head and her face, which became swollen.

She was taken to hospital where x-rays revealed a fracture and a deviation of her nose.

Sheehan, who sued the state, said she later underwent rhinoplasty surgery and had needed to wear a cast for a week.

She told Mr Justice Bernard Barton she was very happy with the result.


Lucey, who appeared with barrister Michael Murray, told the court that following the incident Garda Sheehan, a mother of two, suffered post-traumatic stress disorder which had required therapy.

She said she became hyper-vigilant and irritable, experienced flashbacks of the incident and became nervous when working.

The court heard that before the incident, Garda Sheehan, who was described as a confident and competent member of the force, enjoyed her duties with An Garda Síochána.

She had hoped to become a sergeant but lost her ambition following the attack.

Judge Barton said the anxiety, upset and distress caused by the assault had interfered with her enjoyment of life.

Hearing that Garda Sheehan had ended the therapy because she did not want to become dependent on it, Judge Barton said that, although she had made very good progress, she may need to attend some kind of lighter therapy.

Awarding her €75,000 damages along with her legal costs and wishing her well for her future career, Judge Barton said Garda Sheehan suffered very severe injuries which had a profound effect on her both physically and psychologically.

Read: Government told 2,000 gardaí need to get out from behind desks and get back on the street

Read: The reality of border policing in a depleted force

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Saurya Cherfi

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