Wednesday 28 September 2016

Judge tells former garda sergeant who sued State he 'doesn't accept' injuries were cause for retirement but awards him €105k

Saurya Cherfi

Published 30/05/2016 | 14:00

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A 60-year-old retired Garda Sergeant, who suffered ongoing back pain and depression following a serious assault during a car rally in Galway nearly 20 years ago, has been awarded €105,000 damages in the High Court.

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Mr Justice Bernard Barton said he did not accept that retired sergeant Michael Conroy had to retire in 2009 because of his injuries.  He adjourned the question of an award of further special damages until next month.

Judge Barton said in a Garda Compensation case that in February 1998, Mr Conroy was based in Salthill, Galway, and had been on duty during the Statoil Galway International Rally.

The judge said in a reserved judgment that individuals in the crowd had started throwing missiles, including bottles, at Gardaí and shouted abuse at them. 

As Conroy arrested a spectator, he had been attacked from behind by another man.

He had been kicked and pushed, landing heavily on a car bonnet. 

He had continued assisting his colleagues on the day to deal with “a very hostile crowd,” before attending Galway General Hospital, complaining of pain and bruising in his left leg. 

Judge Barton today said that Mr Conroy, who sued the Minister for Finance, had later developed lower back pain. 

The judge said he accepted the injuries caused by the assault had re-activated degenerative changes in Mr Conroy’s back. 

Conroy had also suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following his injuries and had needed to undergo a therapy.  He had claimed he had retired early because of his injuries.

The State had claimed Conroy had voluntary retired after 35 years of service and had not indicated at the time that he was retiring on illness grounds. 

He had not been examined by the Chief Medical Officer when he retired.  Conroy had claimed that his local management had been aware of his injuries.

The State also alleged that Conroy was not suffering from PTSD symptoms, but depression.

The judge said that Mr Conroy, who has given up his golf activities because of his physical injuries, may require back surgery. 

Awarding him €105,000 damages, the judge said he did not accept Mr Conroy’s claim that he retired because of his injuries. The judge said he had inherited a small farm at the time.

“There are a number of factors explaining why he had retired without enquiring as to why he had no appointment with the Chief Medical Officer.

“I am not satisfied that Mr Conroy was unaware of his entitlement to be examined to retire on illness grounds,” the judge said.

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