Innocent mum gets €5,000 after gardaí smash in doorway during raid
An innocent mother-of-three has been awarded almost €5,000 after gardaí smashed in her doorway during a raid which proved fruitless.
Gardaí have accepted that children's dance teacher Erica O'Reilly, of Croftwood Green, Ballyfermot, Dublin, is of good character and nothing illegal was found in her home during the raid on July 27 last year.
However, the Garda Commissioner, Justice Minister for Justice and the State contested her civil claim for damages at Dublin District Court when she accused them of negligence and sought €4,992, the cost repair to her doorway.
Judge Michael Coghlan said that there was no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the garda who led the search team after he was given instructions from a superior officer.
"But wrongdoing has occurred to an innocent citizen and I cannot believe the State can remain unaffected by its actions," he said. He ruled that the State would have to pay Ms O'Reilly €4,982 and legal costs.
Ms O'Reilly told Judge Coghlan that she and her three daughters, aged from two to eight, had gone on a camping holiday in Co Wicklow. On the third day, she was told gardaí had entered her home and it had been damaged.
Judge Coghlan heard she is garda-vetted for work where she teaches dance to young children, the court heard. She lived alone but had a partner who is a youth worker and a football coach.
She agreed her concern was that gardaí should have done more to satisfy themselves before breaking the door down.
The court heard that a garda had been acting on information he received from a sergeant who had obtained it from an informant, who was described as a "reliable source".
A warrant was obtained under the Misuse of Drugs Act.
The garda who kept the house under surveillance believed someone else was living there. However, he did not see anyone entering or leaving.
Judge Coghlan heard that the garda spotted known drug users and dealers collecting packages from the front yard.
Judge Coghlan said it appeared that people were solely entering her front garden of her empty house "for the purpose of dropping off and collecting".
He said Ms O'Reilly was an innocent citizen.