Wednesday 13 December 2017

Garda awarded €100,000 damages after HIV threat

Ray Managh

A GARDA, who claimed a man deliberately spat blood and saliva on him and threatened to infect him with HIV, has been awarded €100,000 damages at a High Court garda compensation hearing.

Ms Justice Mary Irvine heard that Garda John McDonnell (50) had been assaulted at Cashel Place, Cashel, Co Tipperary, in November 2007 while attempting to arrest a bloodied man who had just been involved in a scuffle.

Judge Irvine, in a reserved judgment, said it was unusual that Garda McDonnell had not immediately wiped the blood and saliva off his face as one might have expected of someone afraid of contracting an infection.

Instead, the judge said, he had returned to Cashel Garda Station where a colleague had taken photographs of the blood spittles on his face before he had gone to wash it off.

Judge Irvine said Garda McDonnell had some short lived concerns regarding the risk of infection but had been informed that his assailant did not have HIV or Hepatitis C slightly more than two weeks after the assault.

Garda McDonnell had sought compensation for the anxiety and distress he allegedly developed regarding potential infection and for soft tissue injuries to his back, neck and arms.

The judge said she was taking account of Garda McDonnell’s significant history of back problems.  He had previously been awarded €40,000 under the Garda Compensation Acts for an assault which had occurred during the course of his duties in 1998.

Judge Irvine said Garda McDonnell was “a somewhat inconsistent historian” as to the extend of his injuries and as to his reasons for remaining out of work in 2008 and 2009.

“He took no realistic steps to make himself available for light work during the period in question and had he returned to work, as advised, he would not have sustained the loss of earnings he is now claiming,” Judge Irvine said.

The judge accepted his claim for loss of earnings immediately following the accident and from 2010 until May of this year.  She believed he would have enjoyed full policing duties for another five years had it not been for the assault.

She awarded Garda McDonnell €65,000 damages for personal injury; €31,000 for reduced past and future loss of earnings to age 55 and loss of gratuity and €4,000 special damages.

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