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Garda head-butted by son of man he previously arrested awarded €25,000

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Distinguished service along the border during the troubles followed a garda sergeant into retirement and had resulted in a brutal malicious attack on him at his home two years after he had quit the force, a judge heard today.

Barrister Frank Crean told Ms Justice Eileen Creedon in a compensation claim that the son of a man who Garda Sergeant Hugh Smith had arrested 15 years prior to his retirement had turned up in September 2006 at the guesthouse he and his wife ran outside Letterkenny, Co Donegal.

With his finger pressed continuously on the buzzer in reception the man had waited until Smith had identified himself before viciously head-butting him in the face, knocking him unconscious, the High Court judge was told.

Mr Smith, now aged 65, said he had been sitting in a room at the back of the guesthouse when the buzzer rang and he had gone to answer it. He had been asked are you Hugh Smith and when he said yes he had been attacked.

He believed the incident had been associated with the arrest by him of his assailant’s father in November 1987. He had been taken completely by surprise in the 2006 attack and had been unable to defend himself.

Mr Smith said he had been brought by ambulance to hospital and treated but had been so concerned for the safety of his family had insisted in being allowed home that night despite staff having wanted to detain him for observation.

He told Mr Crean, who appeared with Reddy Charlton Solicitors, that his face had been badly bruised and he had suffered for a short time with back pain. He now considered himself to be in full health.

Judge Creedon, awarding Mr Smith damages totalling €25,463, said he had suffered back and psychological injuries as a result of the attack.

Mr Smith had told the court that he also suffered from nightmares and sleep loss following the attack and had spent several thousand euro on installing cctv and security lighting at his guesthouse home.

His attacker had been charged with assault and dealt with in the criminal courts.

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