Sunday 4 December 2016

Garda sues State over injuries after prisoner covered himself in his own excrement

Saurya Cherfi

Published 16/02/2016 | 02:30

Garda Linda Harkin leaving court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix
Garda Linda Harkin leaving court yesterday. Photo: Courtpix

A detective garda suffered psychological injuries after being subjected to a grotesque protest by a prisoner, a compensation hearing has heard.

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Det Garda Linda Harkin (39) told the High Court she brought a cup of tea to a prisoner who was being questioned in relation to a "serious gangland murder investigation".

The Cavan-based officer told her barrister, Frank Martin, the prisoner had not wanted to co-operate during interviews in June 2005, but had not caused any trouble.

She told a garda compensation hearing that on the second day of the prisoner's detention she brought him a cup of tea which he had requested and saw - up close through the hatch - that he had excrement all over his face and in his mouth. She was shocked when the prisoner opened his mouth and she saw it was filled with excrement, she added.

It was covering his teeth and she could see that he was trying to swallow it.

They were almost nose to nose and she feared that he was going to spit it in her face.

Det Garda Harkin is suing the State for compensation for personal injury.

She told Mr Justice Bernard Barton she felt sick and vomited in a sink. She felt weak and later had been unable to drive home.

She claims that she then developed post-traumatic stress disorder, short-term anorexia and later developed a hypersensitivity to smell.

The judge held, in a preliminary issue in the case, that the prisoner had intended maliciously attacking Det Garda Harkin and had not been acting out of an alleged psychological condition.

Barrister Esther Earley said malice had to be proved in garda compensation cases or the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform had to accept prior to a hearing that it existed.

Mr Martin said it was clear that what happened in the prisoner's cell was "no potty-training accident" as there were toilet facilities in the cell.

Judge Barton said he was satisfied the prisoner had known the garda would be bringing him his tea or checking on him.

He adjourned a full hearing.

Irish Independent

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