Tearful garda awarded €106,000 over stabbing
Published 12/04/2011 | 05:00
A 55-year-old garda sergeant, who was stabbed in the side by a man who then took his own life, has been awarded just over €106,000 damages at a High Court garda compensation hearing.
Sergeant John Liston, of Bearforest, Mallow, Co Cork, cried almost continuously as he recalled his unsuccessful bid to disarm a crazed young Fermoy man wielding two knives on New Year's Eve 2006.
The court heard how 26-year-old Trevor Clancy, of Pike Road, Fermoy, eventually killed himself by placing the knives against his chest and pushing himself against a wall. Sgt Liston had been stabbed in a brave bid to disarm Mr Clancy as garda colleagues pleaded with him to hand over the knives, the court was told.
Sgt Liston had afterwards been given an excellence award by his colleagues for his bravery in dealing with the incident and for how he had handled his recovery.
The court was told that Sgt Liston and two colleagues had spoken to "the Matrix-like" Mr Clancy in Fermoy in the early hours of New Year's Eve.
He had been oddly dressed in a long black open leather coat and had a peculiar narrow-brimmed hat on his shaven head.
They had joked about exchanging hats and Mr Clancy had given his name as Gabriel, making some remark about the angel Gabriel before moving on. Later Sgt Liston had heard on his radio that the man had produced a knife in each hand after having been refused entry to a nightclub in the town.
Sgt Liston told the court that gardai had confronted the man in McCurtain Street and had drawn batons for their own protection as they pleaded with him to put down the knives, which he kept twisting and moving in a very menacing way.
Gardai had rushed him as he tried to take off his overcoat hoping to overpower him but instead he had grabbed Sgt Liston around the neck. Later, Sgt Liston felt a pain in his left side and warm liquid on his uniform and realised he had been stabbed.
Mr Clancy had started running around the square and roaring but then returned and shouted: "Gabriel is back."
Another garda had helped Sgt Liston back to the station where he received treatment before being taken to hospital.
Sgt Liston was unable to continue his evidence for a short time after telling how he heard while in Cork University Hospital that Mr Clancy had killed himself by turning the knives on himself.
He said he knew Mr Clancy's father and had been unable to fully get over his inability to save the man from himself. He had undergone surgery for the stab wound and had since been suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He said he still suffered sleeplessness and flashbacks to the incident.
Ms Justice Mary Irvine said she considered Sgt Liston to have improved greatly since the incident.
She awarded Sgt Liston general damages of €100,000 and €6,400 for special damages and expenses.