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Garda who hit RTÉ cameraman in groin with baton avoids jail

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Sean Lucey (42) hit Colm Hand at the protest. Picture: Collins

Sean Lucey (42) hit Colm Hand at the protest. Picture: Collins

Sean Lucey (42) hit Colm Hand at the protest. Picture: Collins

A garda who assaulted an RTÉ cameraman during street protests has received a fully suspended one-year prison sentence.

Judge Melanie Greally said the assault by Garda Sean Lucey (42), of the Garda Public Order Unit, during anti-racism protests in Dublin city centre in February 2016 was an unjustified act of aggression.

Lucey stepped forward from a line of officers and struck the camera of Colm Hand, an experienced RTÉ cameraman covering the protests.

He then again swung his baton with full force and struck Mr Hand to the groin. The victim sustained significant bruising and pain.

Judge Greally rejected a characterisation by Lucey of the assault on Mr Hand as an error of judgment and excessive conduct.

She said Lucey's statement of regret fell short of an apology and that an offer to make a donation to a charity of Lucey's choosing did not represent a suitable gesture of remorse to the victim.

"A transgression of this kind must be seen to carry serious consequences," she said.

She said she would suspend the prison sentence on the basis of Lucey's absence of previous offending and his unblemished record of service.

Judge Greally said given those facts, she viewed Lucey's offending as an aberration.

Lucey, who has been stationed at Crumlin Village and Sundrive Road Garda stations, had pleaded not guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to one count of assault causing harm to Mr Hand at Cathedral Street, Dublin, on February 6, 2016, and to damaging his camera.

Following a five-day trial last December, a jury convicted him of assaulting Mr Hand and acquitted him of criminal damage.

Mr Hand told the court in his victim impact statement that the incident "shattered" his confidence.

In determining her sentence, Judge Greally said she was taking into consideration Lucey's family circumstances, the possible consequences of a criminal conviction for his career and favourable character references.

Irish Independent