Ex-garda stabbed in 'horrific' assault gets €1.1m
'Record' sum for on-duty officer whose injuries forced him to retire
A member of the garda drugs squad, who was repeatedly stabbed while effecting an arrest, has been awarded a record €1.1m in damages.
Mr Justice Bernard Barton, in handing down his reserved judgment, told barrister Paul O'Neill, counsel for the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, that Garda Daryl Mullen suffered serious injuries.
The judge said the 38-year-old former garda, of Slieve Bracken, Gortlee, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, suffered a vicious assault seven years ago while on duty in James Street, Westport, Co Mayo.
The judge awarded Mr Mullen €1,093,179.
He told Eoin McCullough SC, who appeared with barrister Pat Purcell for Mr Mullen, that he was awarding €400,000 general damages, €300,000 special damages and €348,179 for loss of earnings, pension and gratuity.
Liam Guidera, of Mason Hayes Curran solicitors, for Mr Mullen, said after the judgment that he believed the award was a record in the area of garda compensation.
The judge said that in August 2009 the then 32-year-old, from Tuam, Co Galway, was on plain-clothes duty with a unit of the drugs squad during a street festival in Westport.
As he confronted a group acting suspiciously, a 17-year-old youth produced a knife "which he drove into the left side of Garda Mullen's abdomen".
The judge said the assailant, who was later charged and jailed, repeatedly stabbed Garda Mullen, causing "horrific internal injuries".
Garda Mullen bled profusely and was rushed to Mayo General Hospital, where he underwent emergency major surgery.
Afterwards, he was in intensive care for a week.
He suffered serious injuries to his groin, stomach and lungs and later developed MRSA during treatment in University College Hospital, Galway.
The judge said that in 2011 Garda Mullen, now married with a family, had been certified as fit to return to light duties.
He was assigned as a detective garda, but his hopes of gradual improvement of his symptoms and continuation of service as a garda detective were not to be realised.
Garda Mullen, following further surgery, suffered devastating psychological consequences, not the least of which was that he never again obtained a fitness certificate to return to work. He was discharged on grounds of ill health.
Following the release from prison of his assailant to the Westport/Castlebar area, Mr Mullen and his wife and family moved to Letterkenny.
The judge said Mr Mullen, apart from pain-killing medication, including injections, continued to receive counselling and anti-depressant medication.
"In this regard, his evidence was that he sees no end to these problems, nor any future for himself," the judge said.
"Although he can drive short journeys, he has become socially withdrawn, remaining most of the time at home, the only place where he feels safe."
A doctor who treated Garda Mullen told the court that rehabilitation would be slow. He had supported Garda Mullen's decision to retire on health grounds, even from light duties.