Garda assaulted by drunk man in car park and station awarded €25,000 damages
A 34-year-old garda, whose spinal cord was threatened as a result of a double assault, had to be operated on quickly when he was taken to hospital, the High Court heard today Monday.
Garda Kevin Burke, now aged 40, was assaulted by a drunk in the car park of a local night club more than five years ago and again at New Ross Garda Station after taking the man into custody, Mr Justice Michael Twomey was told.
Garda Burke told a Garda Compensation hearing that although his lower back had been injured he had completed his night duty on May 22nd 2013 and managed to get through the following night’s work.
He said he was in agony and unable to get out of his bed on the second morning after the assault and his doctor was called. He had been given a pain killing injection but when it had worn off he had been unable to get out of his bed and an ambulance had been called to his home.
Garda Burke told his counsel, John Ferry, that when he had been transferred to hospital in Waterford it was discovered following an MRI scan that a piece of a disc in his spine had broken off and was threatening his spinal cord.
As a result he had been prepared for and had undergone emergency surgery. He had spent four days in hospital during which time he had to move around the hospital in a wheelchair. When discharged he had to use crutches to get around.
Mr Ferry, who appeared with Julie Smyth of Hughes Murphy Solicitors, Dublin, told the court that Garda Burke had been a very fit man who had taken part in hill walking and had gone running several times a week sometimes up to six miles.
“While he made a good recovery from his injuries there is an issue of ongoing back pain and the loss of sensation in an area of his left leg,” Mr Ferry said.
“Intermittent pain is continuing more than five years after the incident and Garda Burke faces potential foot trips when he is fatigued and particularly when he is climbing stairs or on uneven ground.”
Mr Ferry said the medical evidence was that he had suffered a ruptured disc, a piece of which had impinged on and threatened to damage his spinal cord which had resulted in serious limitation of movement requiring surgery.
He had suffered severely for a couple of months following surgery, returning to light duties and returning to full duty within five months.
“He now suffers low back pain which is ongoing and which has to be medicated by the use of pain killers on a daily basis. He is still a very young man who has been left with permanent injury,” Mr Ferry said.
Awarding Garda Burke €25,000 damages together with €2,700 medical and other expenses against the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Judge Twomey said Garda Burke’s injuries had not caused him any permanent functional impairment but would have to be managed with medication.