Friday 30 September 2016

Armed gardai handcuffed mother-of-two and her partner on bedroom floor after bursting into home, court heard

Ray Managh

Published 20/07/2016 | 14:04

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A court has heard that an armed garda response unit burst into the home of a mother-of-two and handcuffed her and her partner on their bedroom floor.

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Judge Francis Comerford, awarding Mary Foran and her partner Tony Boyle a total of €38,000 damages against the State, said armed men entering their home at Abercorn Road, East Wall, Dublin, had presented as “a great threat.”

He told the couple’s senior counsel Ray Comyn, who appeared with barrister Frank Crean, that cuffing Mr Boyle’s hands behind his back and forcing him to lie on the floor and the handcuffing of Ms Foran could not be justified.

Judge Comerford, in a reserved judgment, also awarded €23,000 damages to mother of four Vickey Foran whose home at West Road, East Wall, was also forcibly entered and searched by the armed response unit.

The court had heard that Vickey Foran was on her way to the bathroom when the armed men in black broke in.  She had withdrawn to her bedroom where she was ordered to lie on the floor. Before lying down, in response to a garda question as to who was under the duvet, she had pulled it back to reveal her two youngest children cowering underneath.

Downstairs Vickey Foran’s daughter, Hayleigh, was dressing for school when the armed gardaí had “burst into her room.” They had pointed a gun at her and directed her to lie on the ground.

The court heard that the armed gardaí had been looking for “a dangerous individual” and when they had failed to find him at the home of Mary Foran and Tony Boyle and the home of Vickey Foran they had proceeded to search the home of 48-year-old painter Zakari Biassall, also in Abercorn Road, East Wall.

Mr Biassall, whose home had been searched on the basis that a car registered to “the dangerous individual” had been parked near his house, was awarded €22,000 damages.  He had also been forced to lie on the floor with his hands cuffed behind his back.  The searches of all three houses had revealed nothing and the court heard that all of the plaintiffs were “decent hardworking citizens who were not suspected of any wrongdoing whatsoever.”

Mr Crean, who was instructed by O’Hanrahan Lally solicitors for all of the plaintiffs, had earlier told the court that the leaders of the armed response unit had believed the “dangerous individual” they had been looking for would be found at the addresses in East Wall.

All of the plaintiffs, whose homes were raided around 6:50am on November 25, 2009, claimed damages for negligence and trespass causing them “intimidation, harassment, humiliation, distress, anxiety and upset.”  The court had been told it was “common case” that the gardaí had no lawful authority to forcibly enter their dwellings.

Mr Comyn, SC, applied for and was granted full legal costs for all of the plaintiffs for the trial which lasted several days and, together with the State’s legal bill, will cost the taxpayer in the region of €200,000 on top of the total damages awards of €83,000.

Ronnie Robins SC, counsel for the State, who appeared with barrister Peter Shanley, was granted a stay on damages and costs to facilitate consideration of an appeal on Judge Comerford’s orders to the High Court.

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