Sunday 20 August 2017

Garda awarded €25,000 after his thumbs were injured in arrest

Garda Dermot Byrne, with an address in Arklow, Co Wicklow, pictured leaving the Four Courts after he was awarded over €25,000 damages following a High Court Garda Compensation hearing (Picture: Collins Courts)
Garda Dermot Byrne, with an address in Arklow, Co Wicklow, pictured leaving the Four Courts after he was awarded over €25,000 damages following a High Court Garda Compensation hearing (Picture: Collins Courts)

A garda, who suffered injuries to his thumbs in an assault 11 years ago, had to have his wife knot his tie this morning before attending a Garda Compensation hearing in the High Court, a judge heard.

Garda Dermot Byrne, of Ballyrahan, Tinahely, Arklow, Co Wicklow, told Mr Justice Bernard Barton that he still suffered pain today as a result of both his thumbs having been forced back over his wrists while making an arrest in August 2006.

He told his barrister Brid O’Flaherty that he and a colleague were patrolling the Camden Street area of Dublin at a time when “the night clubs were emptying onto the streets” and a young man twice struck the garda car.

Garda Byrne said he had given chase and was arresting the man on a public order offence when he was attacked from behind by a second man.  His had been grabbed in a neck-lock and his head pulled backwards.

He told Ms O’Flaherty, who appeared with Hughes Murphy Solicitors, that as he was handcuffing the first man his assailant grabbed his thumbs  and forcefully hyper-extended them.

Garda Byrne, who was attached to Kevin Street Garda Station at the time, stated that the second man was screaming “get off my fucking friend you pig I am going to kill you.”  He had then aimed a kick at the garda’s head shouting: “I will kick your fucking head in you bastard.”

The court heard that Garda Byrne, now aged 40, had also suffered neck, shoulder and back injuries but, while these had cleared up after a matter of months, the pain symptoms in his thumbs had lasted until this day.

“Even lifting and using a remote can be painful,” he said.  “When I was dressing this morning my wife had to knot my tie for me. I couldn’t do it myself.

Garda Byrne said that while he had not been disabled as a result of the incident in 2006 the pain continues to make life difficult for him.  He had been medicated by doctors and had undergone a series of physiotherapy sessions.

Judge Barton awarded Garda Byrne €25,000 compensation for his injuries.

“I absolutely accept that this officer did sustain soft tissue injuries directly related to the incident in August 2006,” Judge Barton said.  “He has not made the case that he is disabled but that he does have pain and ongoing difficulties.”

Judge Barton said Garda Byrne had to prove on the balance of probability that his current problems and difficulties with his thumbs were connected with the assault and he felt he had fallen short of that proof.

The judge said Garda Byrne had suffered injuries to both his thumbs which, for a significant period afterwards, would have been very painful as well as having suffered soft tissue injuries to his neck, shoulders and back.

“I don’t know what the cause of his present troubles are.  I have to be satisfied there is a direct correlation with the incident and I cannot say I am,” Judge Barton said.

Garda Byrne was awarded his costs as well as just over €400 for expenses.

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