Wednesday 24 May 2017

Gardai took it in turns to hit man, trial told

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

A YOUNG man who claims that he was assaulted in his bedroom by gardai told a court how they "took turns" hitting him and smacked his head off the bedpost.

Owen Gaffney (21) of Basin Street flats, Basin Street Upper, in Dublin's south inner city, was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of four gardai at the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court.

Gardai Sean O'Leary, Eoin Murtagh, Alan Conlon and Claire Delaney have all pleaded not guilty to forcing entry to a premises, entering as trespassers and assaulting Owen Gaffney, causing him harm, on February 17, 2008.

Gardai Murtagh, Conlon and Delaney have also pleaded not guilty to the false imprisonment of Fidelma Gaffney, Owen Gaffney's mother, on the same date.

Called to the witness box, Owen Gaffney was urged by Judge Desmond Hogan to "make yourself comfortable".

Only Gardai O'Leary and Murtagh glanced at him.

Mr Gaffney told the court that he lived in Basin Street flats with his mother and sister Vicky. At the time of the incident, which happened when he was 18, he was a goalkeeper with Mourne Celtic.

He said that on February 17, 2008, he played a match and then got straight into bed when he arrived home at about 2pm.

Mr Gaffney said that he awoke to see "some guards standing around me with batons, who just started hitting me," he said, adding that he saw "Gda O'Leary, with two batons in his hand".

He told the court: "He (Gda O'Leary) hit me twice on the head. I was dazed. They all started hitting me then."

Mr Gaffney said he knew Gda Sean O'Leary, who was based at Kilmainham, from "driving around the area", adding that Gda O'Leary had previously arrested him for "driving around in an old Nissan Micra with no tax or insurance".

He claimed that Gda Murtagh hit him with a "baton with a ball on top of it".

Mr Gaffney continued: "They picked me up and smacked my head off the post," adding later that it had been Gdai O'Leary and Murtagh who did this to him.

Asked how many gardai had been in the room, Mr Gaffney replied: "More than three, but it's all a big daze to me."

He said his mother came running into the room and that he appealed: "Sean, please, not in front of me ma" and she was then taken out of the room.

"After that, they put me on the ground and they all took turns hitting me," he said, saying this had gone on for "five to seven minutes".

Bloodstains

Mr Gaffney said Garda Murtagh kicked him in the chin. The gardai then walked out, leaving him with injuries including baton marks on his back, a swollen nose and bleeding from his arms.

After the incident, his mother came running down to his room, crying.

She then chased after the gardai, before running to the shop for a camera to take photographs "to show the Ombudsman".

Mr Gaffney told the court that he had not struck anyone during the incident in his bedroom, saying: "I couldn't. I was like jelly after being hit by the batons."

Earlier an officer with the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission told the court that he photographed several bloodstains on the bedroom wall, radiator and the frame of Mr Gaffney's bed.

The trial continues today.

Irish Independent

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