Gardener in armed-raid blunder asks for apology
A GARDENER who claimed members of the Garda Emergency Response Unit (ERU) put guns to his head in the mistaken belief he was part of a gang of robbers told the High Court he is not looking for money, but for an apology.
"This case is about the State apologising to me. That is what I have asked from day one," John Paul King told the court.
He added: "Money means nothing to me. I pay my mortgage. Everything is up to date. I am not looking for money. I am looking for an apology over what has happened to me."
Mr King, who was under cross examination yesterday from David Keane for the State, said he would give any compensation to charity.
Mr Keane said it was the State's case that ERU officers got out of an unmarked van at the petrol station when a man in a car with a false taxi plate was seen to put on a balaclava.
He said gardai were acting on confidential information regarding the possibility of a robbery from a cash-in-transit vehicle in the Blanchardstown district.
One of the men in the car had a sawn off shotgun and the other a machete, counsel said.
Mr King claims a gun was put to the back of his neck and handguns were pointed at each temple in an ERU operation to prevent the robbery in August, 2003.
Mr King was later told by an officer he had been in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Mr King (40), of Kingshall, Newcastle Upper, Newcastle, Co Wicklow, is suing the State for damages over the incident outside the On the Run shop attached to the Esso petrol station on the Navan Road, Dublin.
In his action Mr King has claimed he was set upon, assaulted and falsely imprisoned by armed gardai.
It is also claimed Mr King suffered post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of his ordeal and has suffered flashbacks.
The State claims Mr King was released immediately after it was established he was an innocent bystander.
It is also claimed that Mr King threw away his phone and ran when ERU officers arrived on the scene.
As a result, it is claimed the ERU reasonably comprehended he was a member of the robbery gang and was attempting to flee the scene.
In the second day of his action yesterday, Mr King said he did not know if he threw his phone.
"I froze. All I wanted to do was take cover. I don't know what I did," he said.
The hearing before Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne and a jury continues.