A MAN has been awarded €200,000 in damages after a High Court jury found he had been assaulted by an off-duty garda and later maliciously prosecuted over an incident outside a nightclub.
Aidan McNellis (33), a software engineer, of Curralee, Headford Road, Galway, sued Garda Paul Carney of Store Street garda station in Dublin, the Garda Commissioner and the State, over the incident which started outside Bob's Nightclub in Essex Street, Dublin, on April 23, 2001.
The defendants denied assault, battery, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution.
The High Court heard Mr McNellis and a friend, Barry Boyle, had been drinking in some hostelries when they tried to see if they could get into Bob's, which was just closing.
Mr Boyle was talking to a bouncer at the nightclub door when Garda Carney and another off-duty officer, Stephen Ryan, who has since joined the Australian police, arrived. Mr McNellis claimed the two gardai also attempted to gain entry to the club but were refused and an altercation ensued between them and Mr Boyle.
He claimed Mr Boyle was knocked to the ground and repeatedly struck by Garda Carney and/or then Garda Ryan.
Mr McNellis claimed when he attempted to intervene, he was physically restrained by Garda Carney. Mr Boyle got free and it was at that point the pair, who were in plain clothes, said they were gardai.
Later, at a nearby pub, both Mr McNellis and Mr Boyle were arrested.
Mr McNellis was held in Pearse Street garda station for two hours and later charged with assault, drunk and disorderly and breach of the peace. Twenty-two months later, the charges were dismissed in the district court.
Following just over an hour-and-a- half of deliberations, a jury of seven women and five men found in Mr McNellis's favour.
They awarded €150,000 in compensatory damages and €50,000 in exemplary damages.