Gardaí used pepper spray in a bid to restrain a female prisoner after she clamped her teeth into the arm of a colleague and refused to let go, a High Court judge was told yesterday.
During a Garda compensation virtual hearing, Ms Justice Mary Rose Gearty heard that in November 2014 Garda Sheenagh Carroll had been attacked at Donegal Court after escorting a violent prisoner from Dublin to the wrong courthouse – Donegal instead of Letterkenny.
Garda Carroll said in an affidavit that the prisoner was removed from Donegal Court to a police van after kicking and shouting and pulling her hair. While in the van, the prisoner had bitten the garda’s left arm.
“While attempting to push away the prisoner’s head, she then latched her teeth down onto my right arm,” Garda Carroll stated. “I was unable to free myself as her jaw was clenched so tightly on my arm.”
Barrister Esther Earley, who appeared for Carroll with Keira O’Reilly of Keans Solicitors, said other gardaí had gone to their colleague’s assistance and even used pepper spray on the prisoner, who eventually let go.
Garda Carroll had her open and bleeding bite wounds treated at Letterkenny Hospital where a nurse, who knew the prisoner, told her the prisoner was HIV positive. She was given a cocktail of medication to combat HIV.
Garda Carroll, of Milltownpass, Co Westmeath, described the attack as savage and said she had suffered both physical and psychological injuries.
Four months later she had resumed light duties at Pearse Street station in Dublin. Teeth marks are still visible on her arms and she is self-conscious of them to the point that she is reluctant to wear short-sleeved tops.
Judge Gearty, in awarding damages of €18,000, said that while Garda Carroll’s injuries and anxieties had been confined to well under six months’ duration, her personal life had been affected.
Judge Gearty also heard a compensation claim yesterday regarding an injury suffered by Garda Carroll in 2009.
In that incident, she was attempting to handcuff an aggressive man in Fleet Street, Dublin, when she sustained a wrist injury. The judge awarded her €8,000 compensation.
In January last year, Garda Carroll, who is 41, was awarded €22,000 damages for an undisplaced fracture of her left arm, which she sustained when restraining a female prisoner who had kicked out and struck her.