A FORMER rugby-playing garda who tackled and arrested two runaway drunken drivers in a 24-hour period has been awarded €73,000 in damages for injuries he suffered in apprehending them.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Sgt Thomas Kelly injured his knee when he wrestled one man down a 10ft-deep dike.
He was later kicked in the chest as he swung on the leg of the other drunk driver, who was trying to scale a wall.
Aidan Walsh, SC, told the garda compensation hearing at the High Court in Dublin that Sgt Kelly (40) refused to take time off as advised by his doctor and arranged light duties.
Counsel said he apprehended both drivers on consecutive nights while stationed in Cashel, Co Tipperary, in July 2004.
The court heard he had self- medicated for almost a fortnight before seeing his doctor, who recommended he take time off. Instead, he had organised that he would continue with light duties in the station.
Judge Irvine said Sgt Kelly, of Cahir, Co Tipperary, who is now stationed in Carrick-on-Suir, was committed to his work.
Despite having been injured in the first arrest on July 19, he insisted on returning to duty the next night.
The judge heard that on the first occasion, the then Gda Kelly fell down an embankment.
On the second, the driver tried to climb a wall. Gda Kelly grabbed his leg and was kicked in the chest, falling back on to the steel frame of an old bar stool. The driver fell on him.
Judge Irvine said Sgt Kelly gave up rugby in 1995 after a knee operation. He continued to play hurling and soccer until the assaults, but had since been unable to play contact sports.
The judge said his knee had recovered before the assaults. She awarded €50,000 for his injuries to date with €20,000 for future suffering and pain and €3,000 special damages.