Wednesday 22 January 2020

Garda bitten by 'needle use' man unable to have sex with wife for six months after assault

Stock picture
Stock picture

Saurya Cherfi

A 41-year-old Garda, who feared he had contracted an infectious disease after he was bitten by a man, has told the High Court he was unable to have sex with his wife for six months following the assault.

Garda Mark Kilbride told the court that the incident happened in November 2000 when he and colleagues were escorting the man, who was very agitated and aggressive, from his home to a mental health unit in Sligo where he was to be admitted as a voluntary patient.

The court heard during a Garda Compensation hearing that when he approached him, the man, whom he knew had a history of drug abuse ‘with needles,’ pulled Garda Kilbride’s head back and sank his teeth into his right upper arm.

Garda Kilbride told his barrister, Sara Antoniotti, that he felt immediate and severe pain, and as the man refused to release his grip, his colleagues had to intervene and restrain him.

“It felt like he was trying to bite a chunk out of my arm,” Garda Kilbride told Mr Justice Bernard Barton.

The court heard that after the man was admitted in the mental health unit, Garda Kilbride was taken to the A&E Department of Sligo General Hospital where blood samples had been taken.

Garda Kilbride said the man could not be asked to allow his blood to be taken for test purposes because he was in voluntary psychiatric care. He said he had been very worried for six months until final blood tests revealed he had not contracted AIDS.

The Garda, a father of two, told the court he had been worried about the possibility of passing on any infectious disease to his wife and had refrained from sexual activity with her until he had been given the all-clear following blood test results.

The court heard the attack and his treatment had affected his marriage and family life at the time. 

Garda Kilbride said he had remained physically fit but had needed to abandon his sporting activities for some time. 

He had developed symptoms of post-traumatic stress and had needed to attend a psychiatrist.

He had also suffered a soft tissue injury to his right shoulder in the assault, but it had resolved after a few weeks.

Ms Antoniotti said Garda Kilbride, who sued the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, had been off work for a few weeks.

Judge Barton, awarding Garda Kilbride €18,000 damages, said he was satisfied his family and marital life had been interfered with as a result of the assault.

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