News Courts

Sunday 31 August 2014

Man denies ‘smell of bacon’ comment as gardai arrived, court hears

Aoife Nic Ardghail

Published 25/02/2014 | 16:54

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A YOUNG Dublin man alleging a garda beating has denied he referred to the “smell of bacon” as a patrol car pulled up to where he and friends had gathered around a burning wheelie bin.

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21-year-old Leon Sutcliffe denied under cross examination that he verbally abused gardai twice before he was chased down on foot, caught and pushed to the ground. He denied a suggestion by Padraig Dwyer SC, defending Garda John Mulcahy, that he was “violently resisting arrest”.

Mr Dwyer said it is his client’s case that he struggled unsuccessfully to handcuff Mr Sutcliffe while they were both on the ground.

He suggested the injury to the inside of Mr Sutcliffe’s right elbow, as noted by a doctor, could be explained when both accused hauled the then 18-year-old to his feet. Mr Sutcliffe rejected the suggestion.

Gardai Mulcahy and Brian O’Connor of Blanchardstown Garda Station have both pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting Mr Sutcliffe on November 13, 2010 at Fortlawn Park, Blanchardstown. It was day 2 of the trial.

Garret Baker BL, prosecuting, revealed in his opening speech that Mr Sutcliffe suffered a lacerated kidney and was in hospital for ten days.

The prosecution alleges the accused gardaí acted “well beyond their powers and the rule of law”. It says they took part in a “sustained assault on man lying on the ground under garda instruction.”

Mr Sutcliffe told Mr Dwyer under cross examination that he had never heard the phrase “smell of bacon” before. “I can one hundred percent say I did not say that”, he told counsel.

He further denied he called gardai “a crowd of c***s”.

The alleged injured party refuted Mr Dwyer’s suggestion that a garda witness who had been in the patrol car after his arrest would say that he appeared highly intoxicated.

“That’s a lie”, responded Mr Sutcliffe. “Maybe I was dizzy after getting kicks…you’re not going to look normal after that.”

Mr Dwyer put it to Mr Sutcliffe that medical records showed he had damaged the same kidney the previous year from playing football and that he hadn’t attended hospital until a few days later. Mr Sutcliffe agreed that doctors had advised him then not to play football before the injury was fully healed.

Mr Sutcliffe told Mr Dwyer that he had played non contact “pass and shoot” style football the day before his friend’s 18th birthday party and alleged attack.

He denied his friends around the wheelie bin had fired missiles at gardai or that he had thrown a “tirade of abuse” at them.

Mr Sutcliffe rejected a suggestion by Conor Devally SC, defending Gda O’Connor, that it “beggars belief” he only had four pints of alcohol to drink at the pub before the after-party.

Counsel, referring to a map showing the wheelie bin location and Mr Sutcliffe’s family address, put it to him that the route he described taking when he left the after-party was not consistent with someone walking home. Mr Devally suggested that Mr Sutcliffe wouldn’t have seen the burning wheelie bin unless he had been walking away from his home direction.

Mr Sutcliffe agreed it was his evidence that he had nothing to do with the wheelie bin being stolen or setting it alight.

When asked why he said he had panicked when he agreed it came as no surprise that gardai would show up at the scene of a burning wheelie bin, Mr Sutcliffe replied that it was because he had never been arrested before.

Mr Devally asked Mr Sutcliffe if he had told a GSOC officer about seeing a green area as he was allegedly being beaten because he had wanted to sound authentic. Mr Sutcliffe responded that the detail was his memory.

He rejected counsel’s suggestion that he had not known which of the gardai had reached him first or what they had been wearing because he had been “chased, pushed to the ground and restrained while struggling.”

The trial continues before Judge Patrick McCartan and a jury of five women and seven men. 

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