Garda awarded €95k after he was arrested and called 'a big f**king ape' after querying taxi price
A 55-year old Garda who sued the State after he said he was rugby tackled to the ground when off duty, handcuffed and arrested after querying the price of a taxi home has been awarded €95,000 by a High Court jury.
Garda Oliver Cully who works on protection duty at Aras an Uactarain, the jury found was falsely imprisoned and assaulted by members of the gardai in the incident in the early hours of the morning after Garda Cully left a night club on April 24,2004.
The jury of six men and four women assessed damages for false imprisonment at €23,000 and €9,000 for the assault.
The jury who heard the case over thirteen days and deliberated for four hours also in their unanimous decision found that Gardai had intentionally or recklessly inflicted emotional suffering on Garda Cully and assessed damages for this at €14,000.
Aggravated damages amounting to €49,000 was also awarded bringing the total award to €95,000.
Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh will later this month decide on a loss of earnings claim from Garda Cully.
In evidence Garda Cully who has been in the Force over 30 years said he was left sitting on a Dublin street handcuffed until a garda van came to take him to a station.
He told the jury he felt totally embarrassed to be sitting in handcuffs on the street opposite a pub which is a “garda haunt.”
He had queried a charge of €35 for a taxi to Lucan in the early hours of the morning after he had left a Dublin city nightclub. He told the High Court he had ten months later done the same journey by taxi for just over €20.
He sued the State claiming he was assaulted and falsely imprisoned as a result of the incident over the taxi fare in the early hours of April 24, 2004.
He also claimed he was subjected to emotional suffering. The State defendants denied all the claims.
The jury were also told Garda Cully was found not guilty on all charges relating to the incident in the District Court including breach of the peace and resisting a garda. A Garda disciplinary investigation stopped after six months.
After the jury returned the verdict Mr Justice Colm MacEochaidh thanked them for their service and excluded them from having to serve on a jury again for eight eyars.
In evidence Garda Cully said he was aware it was illegal to overcharge and he told the taxi driver he would pay what was on the meter. He said the taxi driver told him to get out, but then drove on and stopped after one hundred metres and called over two uniformed gardai. He said a male garda came over to him in the car and he told him he just wanted to get home and the driver was trying to overcharge. He said the garda said “get the f**k out of the car”.
Garda Cully said he was not drunk and did not say anything abusive to the gardai. He said other gardai had arrived and one said to him he was “a big f**king ape”. He said he walked away with the intention of getting another taxi.
“After twenty five paces I heard somebody running . My legs were taken from under me in a rugby tackle . My face hit the ground first" he said.