Tuesday 12 December 2017

Garda who had shotgun pointed at him awarded close to €46,000

By Ray Managh and Saurya Cherfi

A 42-year-old Garda, who feared for his life when a man pointed a shotgun at him following a car chase, was today awarded almost €46,000 compensation in the High Court.

Garda Michael Fitzpatrick told Ms Justice Mary Irvine that on March 24, 2006, he was attached to Enniscorthy Garda Station and had been in a patrol car when called to a domestic dispute at a house in the town.

He said that when he arrived to the house a man, who had threatened his girlfriend with a shotgun, was seen fleeing from the area in a car. Following a high-speed chase the man they had been pursuing returned to his girlfriend’s house.

The Garda Compensation hearing was told that as the car driver pulled up at the house, Garda Fitzpatrick, fearing for the woman’s safety, had gone to the car where he saw a shotgun resting against the front passenger seat.

Garda Fitzpatrick said as he opened the door the man had reached for the gun and pointed it at him, a few inches from his body. A struggle had followed during which he had tried to have the man, who had his hand on the trigger, release his grip from the gun.

Garda Fitzpatrick, of Toberduff, Gorey, Co Wexford, told Judge Irvine that a second car arrived and one of the Gardaí assisted him in restraining the man, who violently resisted his arrest.

He said he injured his right shoulder during the struggle. He was later prescribed anti-inflammatory medication and required a few days off work.

He told the court that later examination of the shotgun had revealed it had a pump-action and was ready to be fired.

Garda Fitzpatrick said when he returned to the station after arresting the man, he was extremely worried and shocked and was told by an officer he would probably not need counselling sessions because he was a big, strong man.

He told the court he developed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder but did not attend counselling sessions until 2007, because he thought he could deal with the situation and felt he would be weak if he could not, following the officer’s remark.

Garda Fitzpatrick said he encountered sleep disturbance and started drinking excessively to help him sleep.

The court heard that he started feeling better after attending a psychologist, but had experienced flashbacks and nightmares in 2008 as he was in charge of prosecuting his assailant.

Judge Irvine said the unusual fact that Garda Fitzpatrick had been left to manage the prosecution of his assailant and that he had to deal with it in court had probably exacerbated his psychological injury.

She said Garda Fitzpatrick had experienced discomfort with his shoulder which had limited his activities with his children. Hearing that he had made a good recovery and that the PTSD symptoms had more or less resolved, she awarded him €45,740 compensation.

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