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Reserve garda awarded €50k for injuries sustained chasing man who drove stolen jeep onto bonfire

Garda Sean White suffered a serious leg injury as he ducked to avoid a punch in 2013.

Image: ZUMA Wire/PA Images

A RESERVE GARDA who suffered a serious leg injury as he ducked to avoid a punch from a man who had just driven a 4×4 jeep onto a Halloween bonfire has been awarded just under €50,000 damages in the High Court.

The court heard that Garda Sean White, now a full member of the force but for some time restricted to desk duties because of his injury, had been shouted at by his assailant “take this pig” as he swung his fist in an assault on him.

Garda White, of Kingswood, Dublin, told his barrister Barney Quirke SC that he and a colleague had been called to a bonfire on a green at Durrow Road in Crumlin, Dublin in October 2013, where the driver of a stolen jeep was reported to be carrying out dangerous hand-brake turns.

He said that when the garda car arrived at the scene, the driver had driven the jeep onto the bonfire before running off.

The then 25-year-old reserve garda had been first to catch up with him and had been assaulted during a bid to apprehend him.

Mr Justice Michael Twomey heard it was during an evasive action by White that his left foot had become stubbed on the green and his left ankle was fractured as his body made a 90-degree turn away from the jeep driver’s swinging arm.

Piercing pain

Garda White said he had suffered an acute piercing pain in his left leg at the time, and discovered afterwards he had sustained a significant injury to his ankle.

He had been treated and detained overnight in St James’ Hospital where he had undergone surgery the following day to affix a plate and screw repair.

He had later succeeded in an application to join the force as a full-time garda and had successfully completed an induction course at the garda training college.

He later had an operation to remove the plate and screws and had been told by his consultant that he may require an ankle replacement in the future.

Quirke, who appeared with John O’Connor Solicitors, Ballsbridge, Dublin, for Garda White, told the court there had been significant cartilage damage to the garda’s ankle which required ligament restructuring.

His specialist believed he would have to undergo surgery for bone fusion or a replacement ankle at some time in the future.

Judge Twomey, who was told there had been awards of between €80,000 and €90,000 in the past by the court in similarly ranking injuries to gardaí, said the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court had since re-calibrated such personal injury awards downwards by up to 50 per cent.

He said he had heard evidence of very minor early degenerative change in White’s ankle and he awarded him damages of €40,000.

He also awarded Garda White €9,500 special damages, the estimated cost of future surgery to either fuse or replace his ankle.

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Ray Managh

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