Saturday 3 December 2016

Man who claimed officer 'danced on his head' acquitted of assaulting garda

Conor Gallagher

Published 04/02/2016 | 17:37

Stephen Tuohey (25) outside the court
Pic: Courtpix
Stephen Tuohey (25) outside the court Pic: Courtpix

A jury has acquitted a man of assaulting a garda following a trial in which the accused claimed gardaí had “danced on my head”.

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Stephen Tuohey (25) was alleged to have punched, kicked and spat at Garda John Santry in his cell where he was being held for another matter for which a prosecution was dropped. Gda Santry told the jury that Tuohey attacked him after complaining about his clothes being taken from his.

Mr Tuohey of Inglewood Drive, Dublin had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to assaulting a peace officer in Blanchardstown Garda Station on the morning of June 25, 2011.

The jury took just over a hour to return a not guilty verdict following the two day trial.

Today Mr Tuohey gave evidence in his defence and denied being aggressive towards Gda Santry and banging his cell door.

He admitted blocking the viewing hatch of the cell with paper and his mattress but said this was to get the officer's attention so he could exercise his right to a phone call.

He said that when Gda Santry came to get him to bring him to court, he asked the officer about the runners he had been wearing when brought in. Mr Tuohey told defence counsel Kieran Kelly BL that Gda Santry responded that he “didn't F-ing know.”

He said the garda threw him back into the cell and pushed him against the wall before going to hit him. He said he was thrown on the bed platform before Gda Santry took off his tie and started hitting him with it while saying “get up and fight me.”

Mr Tuohey said he replied “no, I'm not stupid.” He said other gardaí then came in and the assault continued, although he couldn't see who was doing what to him. He said someone was “digging” him in the ribs while another twisted his hand.

He said that one garda was “dancing on my head” and that he thought he was going to die. Mr Tuohey said that he was then held up by two gardaí while Gda Santry gave him a final punch to the ribs.

He said he was taken out of the cell and that Gda Santry said to him “I've a can of pepper spray with your name on it.” Mr Tuohey said he made a statement about the alleged attack for his solicitor to be passed onto the Garda Ombudsman but that he never heard anything more.

Under cross-examination from prosecuting counsel Derek Cooney BL Mr Tuohey denied being aggressive “in any way, shape or form to Gda Santry.”

“Danced on your head? Danced on your head?,” Mr Cooney said. “I suggest to you that your story is absolutely nonsense and doesn't make any sense whatsoever.”

Mr Tuohey denied this was the case. The main exhibit in the trial was a few seconds of CCTV footage from the hallway outside the cell. There is no CCTV footage of inside the cell.

The prosecution claimed the footage showed Mr Tuohey becoming aggressive towards the garda and Gda Santry putting him back in his cell for safety reasons. It stated that this was when the garda was attacked.

The defence claimed the footage instead showed Gda Santry becoming aggressive to Mr Tuohey and “getting up in his face” before throwing him into the cell and beating him.

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