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Man suing the State after armed gardaí raided his flat by mistake

He said he felt “shocked” and “numbed” when gardaí entered his home.

Image: Wikipedia

A DUBLIN MAN has sued the Garda Commissioner and State for damages over alleged assault and false imprisonment after the Garda Emergency Response Unit mistakenly raided his flat.

Francis Foster (aged 58) claims he has been traumatised after members of the Garda ERU forced their way into his flat at Nicholas Street, near Christchurch Cathedral at 6-30am on July 19 2013.

Foster claims on the morning in question he was walking from the bathroom to the bedroom of his council-owned flat when the front door was smashed in by three men dressed in full swat/riot gear.

He claims the men started shouting at him, one pushed him to his bed and physically restrained him while the others pointed guns at his head and neck.

The wrong person

It was only when the intruders asked Foster his name did he comprehend they were gardaí. After identifying himself the gardaí realised they got the wrong person and were at the wrong address. The three officers departed his home leaving the front door badly damaged.

The court heard a Detective Sgt remained in the sitting room of the flat and spoke to Foster.

Arising out of the incident he has sued the Garda Commissioner, Ireland and the Attorney General for assault, false imprisonment and the violation of his dwelling, which is breach of Article 40.5 of the Constitution.

He claims he suffered trauma and shock as a result of what happened. He is unable to sleep properly, suffers from panic attacks, flashbacks and post-traumatic stress disorder, and is on medication.

Due to the gravity of his anxiety he sometimes places a sofa against his door at night, he claims.

In his action he seeks damages, including aggravated and exemplary damages.

Claims denied

The defendants represented by John Rogers SC deny the claims, but accept they entered the wrong dwelling as part of an investigation into a serious crime.

It is denied the officers pointed guns at Foster, that he was pushed to the bed or that he was held hostage in the incident.

Opening the case his counsel Jim O’Callaghan SC said the Garda ERU had made an “astonishingly reckless error”. The Garda ERU had intended to search another flat in the vicinity, counsel said, adding his client had never been in trouble with the Gardai.

In reply to his other counsel Peter Ward SC Mr Foster, a divorced father of two, said he felt “shocked” and “numb” and fearful when the gardaí, who were shouting and roaring at him, entered his flat.

Once they realised they were in the wrong place, they left the flat, he said.

Apology

He said the incident lasted about 2 to 2.5 minutes. He said he then spoke to a Detective Sergeant Paul Murphy from Kilmainham Garda Station in his sitting room. He said the Garda offered to make him a cup of tea and said that it would be arranged that somebody from the council would come and fix the door.

Foster said he felt physically sick afterwards, and spent the next few nights away from the flat. He later went to see his GP and was referred to a psychologist.

He said he was delighted to be given the flat in Nicholas Street after what had been a difficult period of his life. However now he just wanted to move elsewhere and start afresh.

He said he never received an official apology from the Garda Commissioner or the State parties.

Under cross examination he rejected a suggestion from  Rogers that guns were never pointed at him, or that the gardaí had not pushed him onto the bed. He accepted that during the course of the conversation with Detective Garda Murphy that morning the garda may have said sorry to him over what happened.

The case before a jury of nine men and three women, and presided over by Mr Justice John Hedigan, continues.

More from the courts: Man jailed for pointing replica gun at garda’s head to “terrify” him>

About the author:

Aodhan O Faolain

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